Size matters! Barriers to increasing job satisfaction of Emergency Nurses

Ms Sabina Staempfli1, Dr Kimberley Lamarche1

1Athabasca University, Athabasca, Canada

Background: Increasing number of visits to Canadian emergency departments (ED) per capita, an aging population, and a slowing growth of the nursing workforce highlight the need for innovative and practical research to maintain safety of patients. It is well known that job satisfaction of nurses influences patient safety and increases nursing retention rates, but there is a lack of understanding what is preventing the implementation of interventions that increase job satisfaction of ED nurses.

Research Question: What barriers prevent the implementation of interventions that increase job satisfaction of emergency nurses, and what needs to be done to overcome them.

Methodology: A mixed methods study based on the pragmatic paradigm was conducted examining real-world barriers facing ED managers attempting to increase job satisfaction of nurses. Managers were chosen from various sizes of hospitals across Ontario (Canada).

Results: Results demonstrated that ED managers had a high level of understanding and attributed a high level of importance to the topic. Three main barriers to increasing nursing job satisfaction included lack of control, lack of time, and lack of tools. Specific types of barriers within these three themes varied greatly according to hospital size.

Implications: The three main barriers can not only act individually in preventing managers from influencing job satisfaction but can also act synergistically creating nursing shortage feedback loops that are difficult to break. Policy makers and healthcare leaders should take note of the different types of barriers faced by various hospital sizes when attempting to increase the job satisfaction of ED nurses to ensure translation into practice.


Sabina is completing her Masters of Nursing in 2019 and is looking forward to where her research will take her in the future. Her research interests lie in designing practical research to increase knowledge translation into practice, and understanding emergency nursing from a systems perspective. She works as an emergency RN in Toronto and as a travel nurse in emergency departments across Canada. When she is not nursing she prefers to spend all her time outside, preferably on a bike, skis or skates. Next year she will be the medic for a mountaineering expedition to Nepal.