Understanding nurses' perceptions of their workplaces underpins successful recruitment and retention initiatives, particularly in this time of global nursing shortage. The American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nursing have identified "magnet characteristics" - organizational factors that support excellent practice and working conditions in hospital settings. Using selected magnet characteristics, this exploratory study examined nurses' perceptions of their work experiences in both hospital and community settings. Mail surveys were completed by community and hospital nurses (n=1248) selected randomly from a provincial registry in Ontario, Canada. Scales measured organizational factors (organizational and immediate supervisor support, decentralized decision-making, nurse-physician relationships and work-group cohesiveness) and job-related factors (autonomy, job challenge, work demands, fair treatment, work-status congruence; satisfaction with career, salary, working conditions) of nurses' experiences in their work settings. Nurses in both sectors wanted more opportunities to participate in decision-making and recognition for their contributions to their organizations. In the hospital sector, nurses reported significantly lower levels of perceived organizational and supervisory support and autonomy, and were less satisfied with working conditions and scheduling. Nurses in the community sector were most dissatisfied with salary. No cross-sector differences were reported on nurse-physician relationships, degree of job challenge or career satisfaction. Successful recruitment and retention initiatives hinge on the ability (and willingness) of healthcare organizations to attend to the concerns expressed by nurses and create work settings that are attractive to both new recruits and nurses currently in their employ.
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