A small group of experienced nurses were asked to describe the characteristics of an extraordinary day at work. The one universal theme was 'making a difference'. The authors say it is important for managers to know what motivates nurses in order to avoid costly staff burnout and turnover. 'Making a difference' did not necessarily mean saving a life or even a positive clinical outcome but improving care for patients and/or their family. The authors call for more research in the area.
Nurses asked to describe what makes a day at work extraordinary say it is making a difference to patients, even if that difference isn't as grand as saving a life, according to researchers from the United States.
Writing in the journal Nursing Management the authors, from Bristol Hospital in Bristol, Connecticut, say that knowing what motivates nurses is important for healthcare managers.
'To prevent costly nursing burnout and turnover, hospital managers need to create environments that foster satisfaction. To achieve this they must understand what nurses want in a job and if this changes over time, but at present this is undefined and elusive.'
Other reasons nurses offered for an extraordinary day included being able to 'teach somebody something', working well with colleagues as a team, and establishing a good relationship with the patient and their family.
But a typical comment from one of the nurses was: 'The days I am most disappointed are those days where I feel like I made no difference at all... when it comes to just a plain old ordinary day and one that's extraordinary it's that - making a difference.'
An extraordinary day for the nurses in the study did not necessarily depend on a good clinical outcome either, say the authors,