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Study: nurses and midwives highly stressed

Nurses and midwives are typically highly valued by the general populace for the work they do, however a new study points to increasing levels of workplace dissatisfaction and stress amongst this critical group of healthcare professionals.

A new study has highlighted increasing workplace stress for nurses and midwives.
A new study has highlighted increasing workplace stress for nurses and midwives.

Dr Fenella Gill, Research Fellow, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, is part of a research team, which includes Associate Professor Peter Holland, Monash Business School, and Tse Leng Tham, HDR student and teaching associate, Monash University, examining workplace wellbeing for nurses and midwives.

The team conducted a national survey – ‘What Nurses & Midwives Want: Findings from the National Survey on Workplace Climate and Well-being’ – of 3000 nurses and midwives, and found that 32 per cent were actively considering leaving the profession. The survey also found that a quarter of nurses and midwives reported they were either likely or very likely to leave the profession.

Results from the survey, which is issued every three years, and was previously conducted in 2011 and 2013, have consistently demonstrated increased work demands on nurses and midwives, however the results from the 2016 survey point to very significant increases in stress related to the work environment.

Survey respondents cited demanding workplaces, where they are required to work very hard and very quickly, a lack of support for flexible work arrangements, a failure of management to properly handle cases of physical, verbal and sexual harassment and intense workloads. 71 per cent of respondents felt they often had more work than they could do well.

The results from the survey point to an imminent shortage of highly skilled nurses and midwives unless steps are taken to alleviate workplace demands and related stressors. The majority of the workforce is aged 47 years, or older, and is set to retire within the next decade.