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Sharp top in Southern California for nurse satisfaction

By The Health News Team | December 1, 2023
Nursing team caring for a patient at Sharp Memorial Hospital

Sharp has developed extensive programs dedicated to advance and support nurses.

Recently, MIT Sloan Management Review, a publication that covers management practices among influential thought leaders in business and academia, released a Nursing Satisfaction Index, which compared how nurses evaluated their experiences at leading health care organizations across the country. In Southern California, Sharp HealthCare received the highest rating.

Susan Stone, RN, PhD, Sharp’s senior vice president of Health System Operations and system chief nursing executive, says she is extremely proud of the high marks. She attributes Sharp’s success to the professional nursing practice environment nurtured and advanced over many decades.

“With our organizational goal to be the best place to work, practice medicine and receive care, we have put in place structures and processes to advance and improve,” Stone says. “We have created a culture of engagement and empowerment and have prioritized the voice of our team members.”

This, Stone says, translates not only to nurse satisfaction but also to extraordinary care for Sharp’s patients and their family members.

Understanding the Nursing Satisfaction Index

The Nursing Satisfaction Index is created following MIT Sloan Management Review’s analysis of 150,000 Glassdoor reviews written by nurses in the U.S. since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an incredibly challenging time for health care employees.

The content of the reviews was classified into two dozen themes. The themes were then used to predict nurses’ overall ratings of their employers, featuring 200 of the largest health care employers in the U.S, including hospitals and health care systems, home health care providers, operators of senior living facilities and staffing agencies.

Four factors — toxic culture, organizational support, compensation and workload — were highlighted to determine how satisfied nurses were with their employer. Among hospitals and health systems, Sharp ranked first in Southern California and seventh in the U.S. It was the only health system in San Diego County among the top 10 performers.

Why Sharp is San Diego nurses’ No 1 choice

Sharp’s organizational support and senior leadership stood out as key reasons for the hospital system’s high index rating. The system’s lack of a toxic culture and level of nurse workload also received high marks.

“Through the feedback given in collaborative decision-making groups composed of nurses and nurse leaders, an annual employee engagement survey, employee focus groups, and listening and learning tours, we have created ongoing improvement plans,” Stone says. “And as a Magnet-designated and Planetree Gold Certified organization, we use these nationally and internationally recognized guidelines to inform and enrich our organizational culture of support.”

Ruel Salvador, a lead clinical nurse at Sharp Coronado Hospital, has been with the organization for over 20 years. He knows firsthand how valuable such support can be.

Salvador joined Sharp as a surgical technologist in 2002 while finishing his bachelor's degree in biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. After graduating, he was promoted to lead surgical tech in 2007 and encouraged to go to nursing school to further his education. Currently, he is working on a master’s in leadership and management.

“After nursing school in 2018, I worked in the operating room,” Salvador says. “In 2020, I was promoted to lead surgical nurse. Throughout my 20 years working for Sharp, I have been supported and guided to achieve my full potential.”

Supporting nurses through the pandemic and beyond

With hospitals and health care systems reporting some of the highest nurse turnover rates in recent history since the beginning of the pandemic — as high as 30% in some states — Stone says retaining nurses is key. Creating a culture of support, where nurses can thrive and advance their careers, is a priority at Sharp, she says.

“The pandemic brought more stressors to the nursing field and led to a lot of nurses working extended hours to care for patients,” Salvador confirms. “Sharp supported a healthy work environment despite this adversity.”

Stone reports the health system listens to the voice of the team members to ensure workload remains acceptable. “We also monitor workload on an ongoing basis with productivity; acuity; and local, regional and national benchmark comparisons to validate and verify we have appropriate assignment of work throughout the enterprise,” she says.

Sharp is also keenly aware of the importance of evaluating compensation across the county, region and state to align its programs within these frameworks. “This enables us to attract the best and brightest team members,” Stone says.

The organization has also developed extensive programs dedicated to advance and support nurses. These include a nationally renowned nursing residency program for new graduate nurses; programs for nurses who strive to increase their practice by level of care; a leadership academy for nurses interested in moving into leadership positions; mentor programs; benefits to enable college enrollment; and an annual scholarship program that distributes nearly $200,000 each year to nurses to advance their education.

“The Nursing Satisfaction Index results confirm that if you are beginning your nursing career or looking to advance your nursing career, selecting Sharp as your employer of choice provides you the opportunity to make your career dreams come true,” Stone says. “With partnership, engagement and teamwork, our nurses are transforming health care and their own lives.”

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Susan Stone

Susan Stone


Susan Stone, RN, PhD, is the senior vice president of health system operations and system chief nursing executive of Sharp HealthCare.

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