P.E.I. nurses who work in acute care hospitals have a slightly better outlook on their jobs and workplaces than those working in other parts of the country, a survey by CBC News suggests.

The online survey by the CBC's flagship investigative show the fifth estate received responses from more than 4,500 registered nurses from at least 257 hospitals.


Nurses union president Mona O'Shea is surprised by the CBC News survey results. (CBC)

The relatively upbeat feelings of Island nurses came as a surprise to Mona O'Shea, president of the P.E.I. Nurses Union.

"What I'm hearing from the front-line nurses is actually how burnt out they're feeling, how overstressed they are, how undervalued they are, how disrespected they are," said O'Shea.

"I'm a little surprised by the numbers from P.E.I. right now."

O'Shea said she doesn't put a lot of weight on the survey results, because the number of people who responded. One hundred ten of the 780 registered nurses who work in P.E.I.'s hospitals responded to the survey.


The survey found four particular areas where nurses were feeling better about their workplaces than the national average: fewer nurses were feeling burned out, more felt patient safety was a high priority where they worked, more felt nursing care where they worked was very good or excellent, and more than 90 per cent would recommend their hospital to family and friends.

O'Shea was pleased to see nurses on P.E.I. are more confident about patient safety.

"I really appreciate that high number and their honesty there, so that really shows that the membership are valuing patient safety and putting it first," she said.

Marilyn MacDonald, associate nursing director at Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said nurses are facing challenges, patients these days are sicker, but she was pleased Island results in the survey seem more positive.

"We are a smaller community, we are supportive. It's a smaller geographical area. Sometimes those things are probably pluses for us," said MacDonald.

But O'Shea doesn't want to see any complacency about the challenges nurses are facing on the Island. Nurses have not been consulted or properly informed about changes to the health care system over the last couple of years, she said. Most recently it was the closure of acute care beds at a number of hospitals across the Island.

"There's not been any concrete information provided to our membership, or even to us, about what the roll out of that's going to look like and the plan of that's going to be," she said.

The nurses union says it will continue to talk to members, too see how they're feeling as the health care system continues to change on P.E.I.