Did you know that women have a 67 percent greater chance of having a heart attack when suffering from work-related stress? Considering that 90 percent of the nurses in the U.S. are female, it's worrisome that nurses report some of the highest rates of job burnout among medical professionals, including physicians, physician assistants, administrative staff and medical technicians [sources: CPS, Matthews, Chou et al.].
Compared to, well, everyone in the American workforce, hospital nurses are four times more likely to report job dissatisfaction [source: Aiken]. Nurses report the greatest work-related stress during times when they have more patients than they feel they can safely manage [source: AACN]. With each additional patient a nurse cares for, the patient's risk of death increases: The patient's risk of dying of a major complication rises by 7 percent, as does the patient's likelihood of dying within the first month after being admitted to the hospital [source: Mensik].
While the perfect number of patients may differ slightly from unit to unit, a 1:4 nurse-to-patient ratio is associated with both good patient outcomes and lower burnout rates among nurses [source: Aiken].