Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 16(2) May 2003 : 51-62.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2003.16337
Ideas in Leadership

The Relative Value of Nursing Work: A Study in Progress

Gloria Joachim, Marcy Saxe-Braithwaite, Heather Mass, Robert Calnan, Janet Mann and Bernadet Ratsoy


The nursing shortage is likely to continue and, without intervention, may worsen. While retention and recruitment are constantly discussed among nursing leaders, the shortages, particularly in specialty areas, continue. Nurses have frequently stated that they are not valued for their knowledge. Yet many nurses have university degrees, post graduate degrees, specialty certificates and specialty credentials. Nurses seek recognition for what they know and what they do. To date, however, there is no objective method that is used to assess the value of nurses and their work.

The study of relative value may provide a method for recognizing nurses' work. The concept of relative value deals with logical operators and facilitates assigning value to a nurse's overall knowledge base and capacity to perform nursing work.

Currently, nursing shortages are concentrated in specialty areas. Nurses who work in specialized areas need specialized knowledge in a narrow field of nursing. Specialty nurses are not interchangeable with specialists in other areas or with generalists.

A study is in progress to calculate the relative value of nursing work in 15 specialties. The goal is to assess relative value from the point of view of the knowledge base in the specialties and between specialties. In this paper, the research team reports on the background of the study, the study's parameters and its progress to date. Outcomes will include devising a way to recognize nurses' work, developing policies related to retention and recruitment and finding a long-term solution for dealing with the nursing shortage in specialty areas.



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