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Nurses call for change as many reveal they’re ‘extremely likely’ to leave profession: ‘Emotional, stressful’

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Nurses aren’t optimistic that this year will be any better than last year — and more than one-third of them are “extremely likely” to change jobs.

That’s according to a new survey by AMN Healthcare, a health care workforce solutions company based in Texas.

The majority of nurses (80%) said they think 2024 will be either “no better or worse” for the profession than 2023 — while 38% said it will be worse.

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Only 20% said they believe this year will be better than last year. 

In light of this, 35% of the nurses surveyed said it is extremely likely that they will change jobs in 2024, and the majority (55%) said it is very likely or somewhat likely.

Upset nurse

More than one-third of the nurses who took part in a recent survey of 1,155 nurses across the U.S. are “extremely likely” to change jobs. (iStock)

The survey gathered responses from 1,155 nurses across the U.S.

“The concerns that many nurses have about their profession were not created by COVID-19 and have not gone away now that the crisis has passed,” Robin Johnson, group president of nursing solutions at AMN Healthcare, who administered the survey, told Fox News Digital. 

“Many nurses still feel overworked and undercompensated. What they want to see is a change in their daily working conditions — better hours, fair compensation and more time with their patients,” she continued.

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“This is not just a nurse morale issue. It’s a public health issue.”

A more engaged, productive nurse workforce means better care and better outcomes for the patients they serve, according to Johnson.

“While the health care industry is acutely aware of this, the survey shows that more work needs to be done.”

nurses doctors

“The number of nurses that are currently leaving the profession is the highest level I have ever seen,” a longtime nurse told Fox News Digital. (iStock)

Gretchen Berlin, RN, senior partner at McKinsey & Company in Washington, D.C., noted that the company’s research has shown some concerning trends about nursing.

“We’ve surveyed nurses regularly over the past four years, and the data consistently shows that around 30% want to leave their roles in direct patient care,” she told Fox News Digital.

“We’ve also done additional analysis and have projected a shortage of nurses in patient care, which is also concerning.”

“This is not just a nurse morale issue. It’s a public health issue.”

Sabrina Korentager, a registered nurse and adviser to ImpediMed in Kansas, has been a nurse for 28 years.

“The number of nurses that are currently leaving the profession is the highest level I have ever seen,” she told Fox News Digital.

“Even more concerning is the level of nurses leaving the bedside for non-traditional nursing. If this trend continues, we face a significant shortage of nurses to provide care to our aging society.”

Reasons for nurses’ burnout

There are many reasons for nurses’ high levels of burnout, Korentager noted.

“Nurses are called on daily to perform in stressful situations that are emotional and physically demanding,” she told Fox News Digital. 

Nurse in hospital.

Many patients are asked to work longer hours with less resources, and are asked to care for more patients than they feel they can safely accommodate, experts say. (Martin Barraud via Getty Images)

“They are asked to work longer hours with less resources for providing care. Often, nurses are asked to care for more patients than they feel they can safely [accommodate].”

Nurses are also being encouraged to obtain higher-level degrees to continue working for the same pay and same conditions, Korentager said.

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Other contributors to burnout and job frustration include high patient-to-nurse ratios and heavy workloads, long hours and shift work, emotional and mental stress, inadequate staffing, and a lack of autonomy and recognition. That’s according to Dr. Jane Tang, PhD, professor and dean of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions at Gwynedd Mercy University in Pennsylvania.

Pay inequity across the U.S. is also a big challenge, according to Tang.

Tired nurse

Ensuring adequate staffing levels can reduce the workload on individual nurses — enabling them to deliver better care and alleviate stress, according to an expert in the field. (iStock)

“For example, in southern states, nurses may be paid less than nurses in California,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“Without equitable pay, underserved regions and populations face heightened vulnerability.”

Violence in the workplace has also dramatically increased, Tang said. 

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“This isn’t a popular topic to talk about, but it’s a huge threat to the nursing and health professions,” she said.

“The physical and psychological abuse nurses and health professionals endure on a daily basis is unlike [the conditions of] any other profession.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated all of these challenges, experts agreed.

What needs to change?

To alleviate the challenges nurses face, Berlin of Washington, D.C., stressed the need to help nurses manage their workloads through delegating certain tasks and offering new technologies. 

“One example is implementing technology to support flexible scheduling, which can free up much-needed time for nurses on and off the job,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“While it is truly a gift to be a nurse, the feeling of not having enough resources to care for your patients can be overwhelming.”

“In our analysis, we found the potential to free up to 15% of nurses’ time through these types of efforts — time that we could give back to nurses to spend on the aspects of their work that bring them the most joy and satisfaction.”

Mentoring is another way to support new nurses, multiple experts noted.

nicu nurses

“Mentoring helps nurses navigate the emotional and stressful challenges they can experience daily.” (iStock)

“Mentoring helps nurses navigate the emotional and stressful challenges they can experience daily,” Korentager said.

“It allows nurses to have guidance and support throughout their careers, which can help with frustration and burnout while providing clarity for career progression.”

Ensuring adequate staffing levels can reduce the workload on individual nurses, enabling them to deliver better care and alleviate stress, according to Tang. 

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“Workplace safety is also paramount for the physical and mental well-being of nurses, as is offering mental health support to help nurses navigate the emotional challenges of their profession and prevent burnout,” she said. 

“Recognizing and appreciating the hard work and dedication of nurses in meaningful ways further enhances morale and job satisfaction.”

Signs of positive change

Some organizations are optimistic about improvements they’re seeing in the nursing field.

Advent Health, for example, has seen a rebound in nursing staff since the COVID pandemic.

Since 2020, the Florida-based health system has seen 10,000 registered nurses hired across its Central Florida hospitals and clinical care locations since 2020, according to a press release.

two women sitting on couch, one is a nurse

“We’ve made incredible strides in fortifying our nursing workforce,” said a representative of AdventHealth. (iStock)

“We knew we needed to make recruitment and retention our organization’s top priority, and so we pledged to invest in our team members like never before and sought to inspire and mentor a new generation of nurses,” said Cathy Stankiewicz, chief nursing officer for AdventHealth’s hospitals in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, in the release.

She said the group has made great strides “in fortifying our nursing workforce.” 

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AdventHealth also said it has cut turnover in half since 2020 and reduced reliance on travel nurses by 98% since the peak of the pandemic.

“Hearing directly from RNs about their needs and working together to make meaningful changes was paramount to overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic and nursing shortage,” said Michele Goeb-Burkett, chief nursing officer for AdventHealth’s hospitals in Flagler, Lake and Volusia counties, in the release.

The group has made great strides “in fortifying our nursing workforce.” 

Overall, the experts agreed that nurses’ well-being is integral to patient care.

“While it is truly a gift to be a nurse, the feeling of not having enough resources to care for your patients can be overwhelming,” Korentager told Fox News Digital.

The continued demands to do more with less can negatively impact nurses’ career performance, health and personal life, she warned. 

“This may manifest in medical errors, inattention or an overall negative attitude toward the patients. All of these can negatively affect patient outcomes and well-being.” 

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