3 in 10 nurses want to leave their employers, survey shows

By | October 3, 2021

Dive Brief:

  • Already in the midst of a nationwide shortage, nearly a third of the country’s nurses say they are seriously considering leaving the profession, according to a new survey by Press Ganey. The trend could exacerbate the complications hospitals have in hiring and maintaining their nursing staffs.
  • Particularly troubling to providers is the trend line identified in the survey: Nurses younger than 35 are the most likely to leave their current job. Many can make thousands of dollars a week as a traveling nurse — an expense shouldered by providers as they seek to close gaps in their clinical staff.
  • However, the survey did demonstrate that providers could identify nurses who are at risk of leaving their jobs and potentially make good faith efforts to retain them.

Dive Insight:

The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the healthcare profession in ways that have not been seen in America in many decades. In addition to dealing with capacity issues, workers are overwhelmed, burnt out and are rethinking their careers.

Nurses are right in the thick of this issue. Although it is a relatively well-paid profession, the mass of patient encounters — often accompanied by irate family members and questioning about the authenticity of the coronavirus — has made them consider other options.

According to the Press Ganey survey, nearly 30% of nurses are considering leaving their current jobs. Newer hires, who are typically younger than 35, are most at risk for such a change.

Press Ganey’s report said that the risk of leaving is exacerbated if the nurse has a lack of connection with their employer. And that risk is growing: Ratings of engagement with their employers dropped twice as fast among registered nurses compared to non-nurses over the past year, according to Press Ganey. The issue is particularly acute among nurses who work night and weekend shifts.

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“Disconnection isn’t the diagnosis — it’s a symptom of a larger caregiver crisis that transcends turnover and retention. The consequences of a critical shortage of early career nurses could reshape our healthcare infrastructure for generations to follow,” Jeff Doucette, Press Ganey’s chief nursing officer, said in a statement.

However, hospitals and other providers can mitigate the risk of nurse turnover somewhat by making efforts to stay engaged with their nursing staff. Low participation in employee engagement surveys is a warning sign that staff may be looking for greener pastures, according to Press Ganey. Among those who do respond to such surveys, low scores regarding questions about a sense of belonging is also a warning sign.

“Nurses who are on the fence about leaving the profession altogether are watching to see if leaders are really listening and willing to tackle tough issues — or just going through the motions,” Doucette said.

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