Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Mary Catherine Garner


It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 2.8 million long-term care beds in residential facilities, staffed primarily with nursing assistants as the front-line care providers. The American Healthcare Association 2012 staffing survey showed that the median annual turnover rate for nursing assistants in the United States is 51.5%. High rates of turnover are associated not only with poorer quality of care but also with increased costs for facilities. The purpose of this project was to understand characteristics that are associated with long-term employment in the nursing assistant role by describing the personality characteristic of empathy in the nursing assistant population with career longevity. The practice-focused question focused on the level of empathy among nursing assistants in long-term care who have been in their role 3 years or longer. The purposive sample group included 60 nursing assistants from 10 long-term care facilities in New Jersey. Data were collected using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index instrument, which comprises 4, 7-item subscales that consider aspects of the global concept of empathy. The overall findings of this study did not establish a significant relationship between empathy and retention; however, notable shifts in the empathy subscale scores of participants related to gender and length of tenure were noted. The results of this study could promote positive social change by helping administrators select nursing assistants suited to working in long-term care facilities, which may result in lower turnover and improved patient outcomes among the population in long-term care.

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