Magnet Hospitals Must Do More on Scheduling Issues
A hole in the forces of Magnetism? (Gulp.) Is it possible?
Yes and yes, answers a study by the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore. Led by Alison Trinkoff, ScD, RN, FAAN, and Meg Johantgen PhD, RN, research revealed that Magnet hospitals do not necessarily provide better working conditions for nurses than non-Magnet hospitals.
While the American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC) Commission on Magnet Recognition does indeed touch upon "personnel policies and programs" in its original Force No. 4 (now incorporated into the newer model component of "structural empowerment"), there appears to have been a failure to translate that objective into meaningful scheduling improvements.
Magnet vs. Non-Magnet
The researchers analyzed secondary data from 837 nurses working in 171 hospitals (14 Magnet, 157 non-Magnet) in the states of Illinois and North Carolina.
"When survey respondents were asked how many hours they worked, whether they had to come back to work with less than 10 hours off, how often they have to work 13 hours or more, whether they work on a scheduled day off, there were no differences between nurses in Magnet and non-Magnet facilities," explained Trinkoff. "The work hours and schedules of the Magnet and non-Magnet nurses really didn't differ."
It's an area of great anecdotal concern among nurses, Trinkoff told ADVANCE.
"Many hospitals have gone to 12-hours shifts and for many RNs that's just too draining. I'm concerned that some of the older best and brightest nurses, those with the most experience, have left because of the scheduling demands when they still have so much to contribute. Many nurses do not get time to eat a meal, sit down and relax, take a break."
Not Enough Sleep
Trinkoff also pointed to research by a university colleague, Jean Geiger-Brown, PhD, RN, who looked at sleep patterns of nurses working successive 12-hour shifts. It revealed they sleep, on average, just 5.5 hours a night between shifts.
"When a nurse can't sleep adequately, doesn't get good rest, doesn't feel well, she is not at her best. Those are all tied to hours and scheduling" reminded Trinkoff. "And a rested workforce is better prepared and better performing."
Magnet hospitals may have overlooked their responsibility in improving scheduling, but now that the research is out, there's more of an imperative to get the job done.
Time to Get Going
Trinkoff admitted she had expected to see better schedules within Magnet facilities. But she didn't.
"But what I do see is an opportunity. Now we have a pathway for real improvement within the nursing profession. If some of the Magnet hospitals take leadership and give this issue more of a ‘showcase,' others will follow suit."
Other researchers on the study, which was published in the July/August issue of The Journal of Nursing Administration, were: Carla Storr, ScD, Kihye Han, MS, RN, Yulan Liang, PhD, and Susan Hopkinson, MS, RN, all of the University of Maryland, and Ayse P. Gurses, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University.
Oh, and another annoying "hole" that just happened to showed up in the data: The proportion of nurses of color in this sample working in Magnet hospitals was significantly lower (8.6 percent) than among nurses working in non-Magnet hospitals. But that's a research topic for another day.
Valerie Neff Newitt is senior associated editor at ADVANCE.