Qatari nurse Aisha Al Qahtani has co-authored a report – now published by HBKU Press – that identifies key global trends that influence nurses’ job satisfaction

Nurses need to be given the right psychological support and a clear career ladder to avoid them turning their backs on the profession because of stress or frustration, according to a Qatari researcher whose analysis of job satisfaction in the field of nursing has been published by HBKU Press.

Aisha Al Qahtani – herself a nurse – is among the authors of a study that looks at key reasons why nurses retain or lose their commitment to their jobs, a topic that has assumed even greater relevance as healthcare workers around the world find themselves in the frontline of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published by Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) – The Impact of Job Satisfaction on Nurses’ Work Lives: A Literature Review – finds that the work environment, emotional factors, opportunities for career progression, and accountability, all contribute to shape how happy nurses are in their jobs – and that healthcare leaders and policymakers must recognise this and act on it.

Al Qahtani, who co-authored the report with Bridget Stirling and Daniel Forgrave, explained that as a nurse, she knows that not all are satisfied with their jobs, and many have decided to change their profession.

When I asked nurses why this is, they often have very different reasons for their dissatisfaction, which is why I decided to study the topic in greater depth. Nursing is one of the cornerstones of healthcare; we need to support those who are already in the field, and encourage others to enter it.

The researchers studied 18 articles assessing nurses’ job satisfaction around the world – from Qatar, New Zealand, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the US, China, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, and South Korea – to identify trends and conclusions. These studies contained the views of 13,458 nurses, including almost 3,696 from the Middle East.

Their findings – developed before COVID-19 broke out – showed that nurses who have opportunities to continue their education during their careers are generally more likely to stay in their jobs, although such opportunities often lead to nurses moving into leadership positions or other areas and away from frontline nursing instead. The findings also added that nurses need to be equipped to handle the ‘hostility’ they can experience from frustrated or fearful patients and their families.

Workplace relationships were highlighted as central to nurses’ job satisfaction, highlighting that ‘negativity and tedious work’ lead to disenchantment, while the emotional strain of the role can increase risk of burnout. The report also emphasised the importance of professional development programmes that ’empower the self-development of nursing staff’.

In any healthcare organisation, there should be a career ladder platform – if nurses see a pathway for bettering themselves and their workplace situation, they will be more satisfied and less likely to leave the organisation and the profession.

According to Al Qahtani there are many findings from this report and many reasons why nurses are dissatisfied with their jobs. She said that most of the reasons are connected. The challenges for a female nurse often relate to the difficulty in finding the balance between work lives and home lives, and they simply have to do their best to manage.

In the end, all we want to do is be able to find the best way to work effectively while also having a happy home life. Our job is to help people, and being able to find this balance helps us to do that.

Al Qahtani said that there remains a need for a clear pathway to be developed to put in place the right measures to address the factors that determine how nurses see their jobs, adding the importance of supporting nurses in both their personal and work lives.

The workplace is like a second home for them. This is why they need both support in different areas of their lives – the physical and the psychological. And it is why healthcare leaders have to be adept at dealing and communicating with nurses, and encouraging them in different ways.

The study is now published on HBKU Press online academic publishing platform Click here to read the full report.