In Report, Pennsylvania Nurses Say They’re Stretched Thin And Spend Less Time With Patients

Sep 18, 2017

A survey of 1,000 Pennsylvania nurses has revealed many feel they're overworked and spend less time doing patient care and more time on paperwork.

The report, released by advocacy group Nurses of Pennsylvania, reveals common complaints within the profession. It found 94 percent of nurses say their place of work does not have enough nursing staff, and 87 percent believe staffing levels affecting patient care are getting worse.

Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network and a Nurses of Pennsylvania Board Member, said many centers are short on staff. 

"The staffing levels aren't there, there's high patient turnover, and nurses don't have the support they need to adequately care for their patients," she said.

A high rate of turnover is a problem, according to 84 percent of nurses surveyed. However, nursing recruitment firm Nursing Solutions reported the average hospital nurse turnover rate last year in the northeast was less than 15 percent, the lowest in four years.

The report says these complaints stem from what Nurses of Pennsylvania calls a "do more with less" mentality from hospitals and other care facilities. It found 69 percent of nurses reported they felt their time spent with patients has decreased over the last five years, which they said was due to inadequate staffing and non-care duties like paperwork.

Kraus says there are steps hospitals can take to support their nurses.

"It's about staff support, paying adequate wages and really making sure there's a culture that supports nurses so we're allowing nurses to spend more time with their patients," she said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median pay for a nurse in the U.S. was $68,450 per year. In Pennsylvania, the average annual salary was just slightly higher at $68,770.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania released a statement in response to the report, saying the state's hospitals adhere to state and federal requirements in regard to staffing. 

"Pennsylvania's hospitals and healthsystems are committed to providing safe, quality care to our patients, and nurses are critical to this mission ... Hospitals also work to cultivate the nursing community by encouraging specialty certifications, and developing career paths that leverage experience, education, and professional activity."

(Photo Credit: Jacob Sippel, U.S. Navy)