A 2017 study from RNnetwork, one of the largest, travel nursing companies in the country, shows nearly half of the nurses they surveyed are considering leaving the field altogether. RNnetwork provided an email poll to more than 600 nurses across the nation to assess their views on hot-button issues like the national nursing shortage, increasing workloads, the struggle to find work/life balance, and how respected they feel in their current jobs. Most of the survey’s participants work in hospitals and range in age from 25 to 55. Following are the main reasons nurses are contemplating leaving the profession.

1. They feel overworked.

The feeling of being overworked is the primary reason 27% of the respondents give as to why they want to leave. In fact, almost half the nurses polled report an increase in their workloads compared to just two years ago, likely due to the growing nursing shortage. However, their pay isn’t reflective of the greater workplace demands employers expect of them.

2. They no longer enjoy the job.

This study identified some key factors that contribute to a lack of enjoyment of the job. First, 32% of nurses disclosed they feel disrespected by their administration. Additionally, several nurses revealed they had been the target of workplace bullying and harassment. According to RNnetwork:

  • 45% of nurses have been verbally harassed or bullied by other nurses.
  • 41% of nurses have been verbally harassed or bullied by managers or administrators.
  • 38% of nurses have been verbally harassed or bullied by physicians.

More than half of the employees who experienced this negative job environment are considering quitting the profession. Workplace bullying and harassment seem to be a strong catalyst for why some nurses may feel it’s time to exit this career path.

3. Their place of employment isn’t conducive to a healthy work/life balance.

As stated in the study, 43% of respondents conveyed their workplaces don’t support a healthy work/life balance. Although nurses didn’t report working more hours than two years ago, the additional workload without further compensation is one possible obstacle to cultivating that delicate balance between work and personal activities. Furthermore, 45% of participants are taking extra jobs to augment their current income.

But the study showed some good news as well. A reported 65% of nurses feel respected by physicians in the workplace. Moreover, 63% of participants believe they spend the right amount of time at work, and 61% say they have the same amount or more free time now than they did two years ago.

While there are many more reasons nurses end up leaving their jobs, one question needs to be answered: What can employers do to keep more nurses in the profession?

Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio

Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a Chicago-based, freelance lifestyle writer, licensed occupational therapist, and certified Pilates instructor. Her expertise is in health, wellness, fitness, and chronic illness management.

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