Report Highlights Urgency to Address Workplace Issues for Nurses
December 11, 2006

Edmonton – The 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses (NSWHN) provides more evidence of the link between the work environment of nurses and patient care, according to the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA). 

“We have to be concerned by the high rates of abuse and overtime experienced by Alberta nurses in their workplaces,” says Mary-Anne Robinson, CARNA executive director. “Previous research has shown that a negative work environment for nurses directly affects quality of patient care. The shortage of nurses is contributing to increased job stresses and, while it is not difficult to recruit nursing students into the profession, the conditions outlined in this report make retention difficult.” 

Nearly half of nurses (47%) reported they had received emotional abuse from patients which is higher than the national figure (44%) and a quarter of nurses said they had been physically assaulted by a patient in the year before the survey (25% compared to 29% nationally).  More than half of Alberta’s nurses (53%) said they usually worked unpaid overtime compared to 49% in Canada overall and nurses in Alberta were also more likely to work paid overtime (34% versus 30% nationally). Only 47% of nurses in Alberta reported that they had full-time jobs, substantially lower than the 61% reported by nurses elsewhere in the country.


One positive finding in the report related to the high proportion of Alberta nurses who felt positively about their working relations with doctors. The vast majority (91%) said they had good working relations and about 84% reported a lot of teamwork between nurses and physicians.

“Alberta is a leader in developing collaborative team relationships among health providers which is important given that good communication between doctors and nurses has been shown to lower mortality rates in Alberta hospitals,” says Robinson.  “It is also a credit to the dedication of the nursing workforce that only 8% of Canadian nurses indicated dissatisfaction with their job and only 4% planned to leave the profession, mostly due to retirement.”
CARNA is the regulatory college and professional association for Alberta’s more than 28,000 registered nurses, the largest health profession in the province. Its members include registered nurses and nurse practitioners working in direct care, nursing management, education and research. CARNA sets nursing practice standards and ensures Albertans receive safe, competent and ethical nursing services.

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For more information, contact CARNA Media Relations.