Engaging in direct patient care can be one of the most demanding yet rewarding vocations. Nothing truly prepares the nurse for the nuances required to successfully deliver hands-on healthcare interventions. Great nursing care is more than passing medications, performing assessments, and documentation. Great nursing care integrates all aspects of the patient healthcare needs and finds innovative ways to promote optimal wellness in an individualized manner.
Clearly, this is an acquired skill and even the most dedicated nurses will show fatigue. Much effort has been spent to improve patient satisfaction scores. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has developed the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) to “survey patients’ perspectives of hospital care”. Certainly this can be an effective tool to monitor overall hospital performance from the patient's point of view. The job satisfaction of nurses in providing patient care is the other side of this coin. As a profession, there is a need to ensure that nurses are satisfied with providing care within their chosen specialty and facility. The American Nurses Credentialing Center has developed the Magnet designation for hospitals that recognize nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice.
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Factors that affect a nurse's job satisfaction and happiness are intrinsic or extrinsic. Certain extrinsic factors such as pay, leadership, and environmental conditions may impact satisfaction. Deriving satisfaction from providing patient care is also influenced by intrinsic factors which may include how much value the nurse places on assisting in the healing process and interacting with people who are under stress and in less than ideal situations. The opportunity to exercise compassion and be an agent for improving health may also be an intrinsic quality that nurses have that improves satisfaction with patient care. Some nurses refer to their work as a “calling”; why they are happy with what they do cannot be explained with words.