Aims and objectives: To identify the aspects of working in Australian primary health care that nurses rate as the most and least satisfying.
Background: The nursing workforce in Australian primary health care has grown exponentially to meet the growing demand for health care. To maintain and further growth requires the recruitment and retention of nurses to this setting. Understanding the factors that nurses' rate as the most and least satisfying about their job will inform strategies to enhance nurse retention.
Design: A cross-sectional online survey.
Method: Nurses employed in primary health care settings across Australia were recruited (n = 1166) to participate in a survey which combined items related to the respondent, their job, type of work, clinical activities, job satisfaction and future intention, with two open-ended items about the most and least satisfying aspects of their work.
Results: Patient interactions, respect, teamwork, collegiality and autonomy were identified as the most satisfying professional aspects of their role. Personal considerations such as family friendly work arrangements and a satisfactory work-life balance were also important, overriding negative components of the role. The least satisfying aspects were poor financial support and remuneration, lack of a career path, physical work environment and time constraints. National restructuring of the primary health care environment was seen as a barrier to role stability and ability to work to a full scope of practice.
Conclusions: This study has identified a range of positive and negative professional and personal aspects of the primary health care nursing role, which may impact on staff recruitment and retention. Findings from the study should be considered by employers seeking to retain and maximise the skills of their primary health care workforce.
Relevance to clinical practice: Understanding the factors that nurses perceive as being the most and least satisfying aspects of the work is can open up dialogue about how to improve the working experience of nurses in primary health care.