Experiences of work and life circumstances, burnout, work engagement and performance among military nursing students in Gauteng
Rabie, Gerhard Hendrik
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The global shortage of registered nursing practitioners is widely reported in the literature. This shortage can be attributed to a decrease in enrollments for nursing studies, fewer students graduating from nursing education programmes, more nurses leaving the profession shortly after completion of their studies, and other factors. Burnout amongst registered nurses may contribute to the above and can also serve as an indication of the reason these shortages in the nursing profession occur. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is also affected by the shortage of registered nurses. This shortage is increased by the involvement of the SANDF in peacekeeping missions outside South Africa. A need therefore exists for sufficient numbers of registered nursing personnel to qualify from the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS) Nursing College. In order to increase the number of students qualifying from this college and, to retain them after qualifying, research is needed regarding the occurrence of non-completion of studies at the college and the tendency to leave the SANDF shortly after qualifying. The objective of this study was to identify possible stressors (job demands and/or job resources) in the military nursing-student environment, to investigate their effects on students (burnout or engagement), and to assess whether it has any influence on their academic performance. A cross-sectional survey design was used. A sample of 167 nursing students (completing the four-year integrated nursing diploma) at second, third and fourth-year levels was obtained. The Clinical Environmental Characteristics Scale (CECS), developed by the authors, and the Wellness Survey (WS), together with a biographical questionnaire, were administered. The Wellness Survey (WS) include scales from three inventories, namely the Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS - Maslach, Jackson & Leiter, 1996), Cognitive Weariness Scale (CWS - Van Horn, Taris, Schaufeli & Schreurs, in press) and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES - Shaufeli, Salanova, Gonzalez-Romh, & Bakker, 2002). Descriptive statistics, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, Pearson correlations and structural equation modelling were used to analyse the results. The results showed that job demands (consisting of overload, organisational influences and work-life balance) had a strong relationship with burnout (consisting of exhaustion, cynicism and cognitive weariness). A negative relationship was found between burnout and academic performance. Job resources (consisting of social support, growth and advancement, contact with others and organisational support) had a strong relationship with work engagement (consisting of vigour and dedication) and a significant negative relationship with performance (academic results). A negative relationship was also shown to exist between work engagement and academic performance. Recommendations for future research are made.