Nurses working in hospitals across the globe are experiencing unprecedented levels of responsibility, stress and burnout with increasing care demands and lowered staffing levels. Organizations and governments typically turn a deaf ear to issues raised by nurses and nursing groups. Nurses are often accused of lack of caring and compassion along with diminished quality of care. They are frustrated that the resources aren’t available to provide the best care possible to patients. The result is that many, many nurses leave hospital work, or nursing itself.
I can speak from personal experience. I spent over a decade of my career in acute care hospital settings. The environment became so difficult for me that I finally made a list of pros and cons about staying in nursing. I told my family and friends that I had to find a role in nursing that I could tolerate, or I had to leave it completely. Thankfully I found a nurse practitioner program which took me to a job in the community setting. I love being an NP. Nonetheless, I felt some regret, guilt and sadness about leaving the hospital setting. I just didn’t see another way for me to stay in nursing.
There are numerous studies about nurses ‘intention to leave’. I’ve copied several links below to abstracts and full articles about studies in several different countries. A number of reasons are given for nurses’ intention to leave their workplace. Common variables influencing nurse’s decision to leave across all studies are lack of organizational support and management leadership. Some straightforward things, such as limits on patient assignments, or fewer day to night changeovers can make a huge difference for nurses. The bottom line is that the manner in which nurses are treated by their employers does have an impact on their level of satisfaction in their job and whether they choose to stay in a particular position.
Healthcare systems and patients need nurses to stay. Nurses who leave workplaces take their knowledge and experience with them…experience that may save a patient’s life or increase their quality of care. As nurses, and potential patients ourselves, we all need to help find solutions to nursing quality of worklife issues and the resulting exodus from the profession.