Comparison of Work Engagement Viewed by Nurses in the US and Taiwan: A Pilot Study

Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Mei-Ling Wu, MSN, RN , School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX

Learning Objective 1: understand the influencing factors of work engagement of hospital nurses in Taiwan and the US

Learning Objective 2: discover the differences in influencing factors of work engagement between hospital nurses in Taiwan and the US

The nursing shortage is not only a severe issue in North America, but it is also a challenge in Taiwan's hospitals. Job engagement has been shown to have a significant positive relationship with turnover intention and is related to job satisfaction. Increasing employees' engagement toward their work seems to be more effective than preventing burnout to decrease the turnover rate. However, only a limited amount of research has been conducted to explore work engagement in the nursing field, and the contributing factors of work engagement have not been discovered. Also, it is questionable whether the influencing factors of work engagement found in nursing in western cultures could be applied to the nursing field in the eastern culture of Taiwan. Therefore, this study explores and compares the influencing factors, both positive and negative, toward work engagement in Taiwan and the US. Data was collected by using semi-structured interviews with three Taiwanese nurses and using participant observation and informal interviews in one US medical center to understand nurses' work experience and its influence on nurses' engagement level. Results indicate that factors associated with hospital nurses' engagement and disengagement can be divided into four dimensions: organization, unit, professional, and personal dimensions. Most factors either contribute to nurses' engagement or impede the development of engagement. Some factors only work to improve nurses' work engagement while other factors are only good at preventing nurses from work disengagement. The results highlight the importance of a healthy work environment in the development of work engagement to nursing. The comparison made here indicates that the strategies which are useful in the US might not work well in Taiwan. Findings provide information for hospital administrators of what can be done in order to prevent disengagement in nurses and to improve nurses' engagement.