The phenomenon of sense of community of staff registered nurses in acute care hospitals

Date of Completion

January 2006


Health Sciences, Nursing




The hospital work environment of nurses has become increasingly demanding and complex, requiring greater and more skilled nursing resources. Currently a severe shortage of nurses in the U.S. and throughout the world is occurring and is projected to reach unprecedented levels by the year 2020 (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2002) while quality of care and medical error are subjects of a national dialogue of concern. There has been limited exploration of the impact of interrelationships of nurses on staff and patient outcomes and no specific study of the sense of community of nurses. The study of sense of community which originated within the discipline of community psychology holds promise for understanding the interrelationships of nurses in the work environment. The purpose of this study was to describe the fundamental structure of the sense of community experience of staff registered nurses working in acute care hospitals. Thirteen registered nurses were interviewed regarding their sense of community experience and data were analyzed using the descriptive phenomenological method of Colaizzi (1978). Three themes were identified that portrayed the sense of community experience of nurses as a feeling of homelike comfort, a special bond with fellow nurses that enabled the ability to practice expertly together, and the provision of exceptional patient care. Nurses experiencing sense of community supported each other to provide the best care possible for their patients through synergy of expertise and caring. Through their expressions participants communicated a passion for their profession and great care for their patients and coworkers. ^ Further research to better understand and measure the sense of community of nurses will generate valuable knowledge needed to establish healthy work environments. The creation and maintenance of sense of community in the workplace of nurses has significant potential for retaining nurses, enabling optimal utilization of nursing expertise, and ensuring the provision of safe, high quality patient care. ^