International Nurses Day: Why Are Nurses Leaving The Profession?
The nursing profession, often considered rewarding and stable, is experiencing a significant departure of nurses in recent years.
Several factors contribute to the exodus from the profession, leading to concerns about staffing shortages and patient care.
While it is challenging to determine the exact percentage of nurses leaving the profession each year, studies have indicated that the intention to leave is prevalent among nurses, particularly in light of the added stressors brought about by the pandemic.
Various types of nurses are leaving the profession due to diverse reasons. Some experienced nurses are approaching retirement age, while others are new graduates facing difficulties in handling the increasingly demanding role.
Hospitals have been particularly affected by staff losses, as many nurses opt for higher-paying travel nursing assignments, which compete with hospital pay rates.
Top 15 Reasons Why Are Nurses Leaving The Profession
Here are the top 15 reasons why nurses are leaving or considering leaving the nurse profession.
Many nurses are nearing retirement age, and the added stress of the pandemic has prompted some to retire early.
Nursing is physically and emotionally demanding, and insufficient staffing coupled with increased patient volume and acuity has led to burnout among healthcare staff.
3. Vaccine mandates:
The debate surrounding COVID vaccine mandates has created ethical concerns for some nurses, contributing to their decision to leave the profession.
4. Family income:
In cases where the nurse is not the primary breadwinner, the demanding schedule and required hours may outweigh the benefits of the nursing career, leading nurses to seek other professions.
5. Family member needs:
With school closures and increased need for childcare, some nurses find it more practical for one parent to stay at home, making it difficult to work full-time.
6. Higher education:
Nurses may leave the profession to pursue further education or explore other career opportunities outside of nursing, utilizing their nursing background as a stepping-stone.
Nurses reach a point in their careers where they reevaluate their work-life balance and consider alternative career paths that align with their envisioned lifestyle.
8. Personal illness:
Nurses, like their patients, experience personal illnesses that may require extended leave or prevent them from returning to the nursing profession.
9. Mental health:
The mentally exhausting nature of nursing and the lack of time for self-care can take a toll on nurses’ mental well-being, prompting them to seek alternative career paths.
10. Staffing shortages:
Insufficient staffing leads to increased workload and mandatory overtime, impacting nurses’ sleep quality, work performance, and job satisfaction.
11. Feeling undervalued:
Despite the vital role nurses play in healthcare, they often feel undervalued by coworkers, supervisors, and even some patients. This lack of recognition can lead to dissatisfaction and prompt nurses to leave the profession.
12. Work-related injuries:
Physically demanding work conditions and understaffing contribute to work-related injuries, forcing some nurses to leave the profession permanently or temporarily.
13. Low Payment:
While nursing can be rewarding, the financial compensation may not always reflect the emotional commitment and level of education required. Low pay in certain areas drives some nurses to seek more lucrative and less demanding careers.
14. Unsafe working conditions:
Nurses may leave the profession if they feel unsafe due to patient populations or unfavorable working conditions.
15. Lack of fulfillment:
Over time, nurses may lose sight of the rewarding aspects of their profession, leading to a sense of exhaustion and neglect of self-care.
These reasons collectively contribute to the departure of nurses from the profession, posing challenges to the healthcare system and patient care.
Efforts to address these concerns and improve nurses’ working conditions and job satisfaction are crucial to retaining and attracting nurses to meet the growing healthcare demands.