Nurse Satisfaction and the Implementation of Minimum Nurse Staffing Regulations

February 1, 2008

In 1999, California passed the first legislation in the United States to establish minimum staffing levels for licensed nurses in hospitals. Implementation of the regulation began in 2004. This article examines whether nurses who work in hospitals in California have perceived improvements in their working conditions. A statewide sample survey of registered nurses is used, and the survey data are linked with regional data to learn whether changes in satisfaction are associated with the degree to which regional employers were expected to increase nurse staffing when the ratios were implemented. Nurse satisfaction improved between 2004 and 2006, particularly with the adequacy of RN staff, time for patient education, benefits, and clerical support. There was a significant increase in overall job satisfaction between 2004 and 2006. However, improvements in satisfaction with the adequacy of RN staff were not associated with the degree to which regional hospitals were expected to increase staffing.

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