4/16/18 - Groundbreaking Study Yields Insight into the Well-Being and Safety of Nurses and Providing Quality Patient Care


Groundbreaking Study Yields Insight into the Well-Being and Safety of Nurses and Providing Quality Patient Care


PITMAN, NJ - Nephrology nurses are very satisfied with nursing as a career, however they identify problems in nephrology nursing work environments, including staffing and threats to their overall well-being.

In the March/April 2018 issue of the Nephrology Nursing Journal (NNJ), authors Beth T. Ulrich, EdD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, and Tamara M. Kear, PhD, RN, CNS, CNN, report on a comprehensive research study they conducted for the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) and in collaboration with Nephrology News & Issues (NNI).

Their article, “The Health and Safety of Nephrology Nurses and the Environments in Which They Work: Important for Nurses, Patients, and Organizations,” focuses on work environments in all nephrology nurse practice settings and their impact on the health and well-being of nephrology nurses. The article provides the initial broad findings of the study, including staffing issues, optimizing the knowledge and skills of registered nurses, and threats to the overall well-being of nephrology nurses.

Additional articles containing more in-depth analysis of study findings will be published in future issues of NNJ.

About the ANNA Study

Specific areas of the environments in which nephrology nurses work have been assessed in the past. However, there has never been a comprehensive national assessment of the overall health and safety of nephrology nurses in their work settings.

In its Code of Ethics, the American Nurses Association describes a healthy work environment as one that is “safe, empowering, and satisfying.” In its 1999 and 2004 landmark studies, the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) has also heightened awareness of the necessity and benefits of a healthy work environment and its effect on patient safety and quality of care.

Seeking to learn more about the work environment of nephrology nurses, Ulrich and Kear surveyed more than 1,000 nephrology nurses working in nephrology settings across the United States. The results are enlightening.

Most nurses surveyed (94%) indicated they are satisfied with their nursing career, and 91% said they definitely or probably would recommend pursuing a nursing career to qualified individuals. The majority would also recommend nephrology nursing.

Areas of concern identified included staffing; exposure to hazards; long, intense hours of work and call; verbal and physical abuse; and discrimination. Forty percent (40%) of the respondents plan to leave their current positions in the next 12 to 36 months, however many of those nurses indicated that higher salary and benefits, better leadership, and better staffing would make them reconsider.

Respondents cited major reports of verbal abuse, threats, and discrimination, especially from patients and patients’ families/significant others. Of the nurses surveyed, 50% reported their workplaces occasionally or frequently tolerated verbal abuse, and 18% said physical abuse was occasionally or frequently tolerated. In such situations, the health and safety of nurses affected are likely compromised, and this may have a direct impact on the quality of patient care provided.

Over the past year (January 2017-January 2018), half of the respondents claimed patient care had improved at their organization (50%) or work unit (49%), or that there was no change (34% and 35%, respectively). But for about 16% of respondents, the quality of patient care had reportedly gotten worse, and in some cases, “much worse.”

ANNA leaders recognize the value of this study across the industry.

"ANNA is pleased to partner with Nephrology News & Issues on this landmark study, and we hope results will generate serious discussions that lead to healthier and safer work environments for nephrology nurses nationwide,” said ANNA President Alice Hellebrand, MSN, RN, CNN.

Additional areas of the study included hazard exposure, safety practices, staffing (work hours and potential fatigue; transition times), communication, collaboration, respect, knowledge and skills, continuing education, certification, recognition, processes to resolve disputes in the workplace, and length of stay at a current workplace.

Future articles in NNJ will provide in-depth discussion and analysis of this study’s findings.

For more information about ANNA, visit the association’s website (annanurse.org) or contact the National Office at East Holly Avenue, Box 56, Pitman, NJ 08071-0056; phone: 888-600-2662 or 856-256-2320; e-mail: anna@ajj.com. For more information about Nephrology Nursing Journal, visit the journal online at annanurse.org/nnj.


ANNA is a professional nursing association with more than 8,000 members. The American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) improves members' lives through education, advocacy, networking, and science.