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Are nurses really leaving nursing in droves?

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by Mqshell Mqshell (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Med surg long term care.

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I keep hearing all over social media nurses are leaving nursing, as many as 25% in past year was a stat I read in article. If so many people are leaving where are they going, we still have to make a living and I’m just curious do you see nurses quitting all together where you work? I haven’t seen this but I keep reading  it, is it another false media story.  If so what are they doing for money. 

travel nursing. Pays more for the same work. My old floor lost 26 nurses out of 68, I was one of those nurses. Not sure how many followed afterwards. Ratio, pay and management are great reasons to leave. Bless the heart of nurses who ever feel "stuck" or believes in "loyalty" in this field. Self care is more mental than anything. If you have to sit in your car and mentally prepare for a job you don't love, move on. No one is "stuck" in nursing. There is so much we can do with our degree and feel valued in our work. 

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Nursing has a fairly high turn over rate even in good times - the midst of a global pandemic is far from good times.  Many will leave for other jobs in nursing, some will leave for related health jobs, some will go into completely different careers. What I've seen a lot of at my work place is people quitting working altogether to accommodate home-schooling and child care giving needs, I suspect at least some will come back as schools reopen, but others likely won't. 

Many people who leave are leaving a job, not the profession. There seem to be a number of articles that don't make that distinction.

Around me there are a number of people who are done with acute care and leaving the roles traditionally considered "bedside." We've also had a few techs/NAs recently who were pre-nursing students who are leaving their tech positions and will be choosing different careers. Although there's a fair amount of turnover in nursing, that's something I haven't noticed too much before; hosptial NAs/techs usually tend to be decently excited/bright-eyed about the idea of becoming nurses.

23 hours ago, Mqshell said:

If so many people are leaving where are they going, we still have to make a living and I’m just curious do you see nurses quitting all together where you work?

Some retiring but not otherwise quitting the profession completely that I know of. Many are moving into provider roles though, and others are becoming more interested in all the other areas of nursing that previously weren't considered as hot-shot as hospital nursing, as well as other types of positions where the nursing degree/license is useful or required.

On 7/12/2021 at 9:25 AM, Mqshell said:

I haven’t seen this but I keep reading  it, is it another false media story.  If so what are they doing for money. 
 

Generally speaking I wouldn't discredit an idea on the premise of "what are they doing for money." You'd be surprised what alternative plans people can come up with when they get tired enough, beaten down enough, or empowered enough to reject abuse.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

I've not noticed Nurses currently leaving the profession more so.

Back in the 80's  I know of two young Nurses leaving the profession shortly after working for a while, for unknown reasons. They were both good Nurses, too.

I consider myself one of the older Nurses who retired early due to certain surrounding circumstances, like physical problems or getting fired.

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

You also have to consider that there are many nurses on the verge of retiring and Covid may have accelerated their timeline to retire.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

In my hospital we are currently short staffed and many nurses have left over the past year, but they just hired a new resident class that will be about 10% of our workforce. So, while they're leaving, there are new nurses to replace them for now. (With less experience and many have less interest in a long term career.)

Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 51 years experience.

On 7/12/2021 at 9:25 AM, Mqshell said:

I keep hearing all over social media nurses are leaving nursing, as many as 25% in past year was a stat I read in article. If so many people are leaving where are they going, we still have to make a living and I’m just curious do you see nurses quitting all together where you work? I haven’t seen this but I keep reading  it, is it another false media story.  If so what are they doing for money. 

As for me, I’m tapping my IRA and full social security.

Hint: a lot of us are boomers retiring, LOL.

Other than that, people may be leaving hospitals but they’re not necessarily leaving nursing. Interest in other ways to use your nursing education and experience has never been higher. Cf., legal nurse consulting, testifying experts, nurse life care planning, medical case management, parish nursing, death examiners, disaster relief…. 

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 9 years experience.

We are "bleeding" nurses (and aides, PT/OT, dietary and EVS). 

Covid has a horrible impact on healthcare. Nurses have been sick, tired of the stress of worrying about getting the virus, getting yelled at. Being the only human contact that pts get. 

Then the newer grads from last Spring, never had hands-on experience. Right now, we have 17 new nurses that are supposed to start in the next 2 months. On my unit there are about 10 nurses total that have more than 5 years of experience. We have nurses that have been there a year precepting new grads. We are not staffed ideally. 

I am hoping that we can find a way to stop the cycle and get a good crew to stay together. As one that has been on the same unit for 8 1/2 years, I desperately want some consistency. Nursing is so hard. It is so frustrating that there is this "grass is greener" mentality and when it isn't, they leave nursing. I have a friend that graduated not quite a year ago and is on her 3rd job already. 

I don't know what the answer is, but it IS hard. I still love bedside nursing and it has been hard, but I don't believe it is any better anywhere else. I work for a large non-profit teaching hospital and they have been really good to us. They are trying, at least. 

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 28 years experience.

Nursing is such a tough profession that I think those leaving don't really need the money.  

During the Great Recession of 2008 and beyond nurses were returning to the profession, and going from part time to full time because of their spouses losing their jobs and nursing wasn't effected by that recession and they needed the money.

So I think maybe perhaps while times are good you might be seeing some people leave the profession or go part time.  I do think covid scared some nurses off.  Where I worked one unit was converted to covid during the Summer surge and six nurses quit.  Not sure if they left the profession or not.

But like you, I don't see nurses leaving the profession in droves.  Nurses switch jobs often.  My unit six months ago lost two nurses to critical care, two to the ER, one to case management and one to the OR.  

 

Edited by Tweety

2 hours ago, mmc51264 said:

It is so frustrating that there is this "grass is greener" mentality and when it isn't, they leave nursing.

On the other hand, if one is standing in brown grass or a barren wasteland it probably isn't too entitled to imagine that just maybe a little bit of grass actually could grow somewhere else. There was a time when it was much more common for people to recognize and be satisfied with green-enough grass....because the grass was actually somewhat green then. Things change.

I no longer feel very critical when people move to where they imagine grass might be a little greener and find out that it isn't and then start thinking about whether they really want to work in any of these places. I think it's possible that some of them are very smart and also brave.  I probably wouldn't feel this way if I hadn't directly witnessed such insulting treatment of nurses. I will never be convinced that this (upswing in turnover) started with irresponsible, non-commital, wishy-washy nurses. This started with poor treatment.

MountainGoatRN, BSN

Has 2 years experience.

I graduated in 2020, the height of the pandemic.  I'm an older new nurse (51).  Worked as a tech for a year, then cardiac PCU for a year as an RN, now and ED RN.  Probably 30-40% of my original graduating class has left the hospital already.  Some complain of the pay, some the stress, some the politics.  I firmly believe that no grass will be greener, it just depends on your overall career goals and where you want to end up.  For me, I see the hospital environment as "thank you very much for the free credentials, certifications and experience".  I will take that with me.  I come from a business background before nursing and I don't understand the lack of true investment in the employee.  Let's face it, we agree to take a job for a certain amount of money, then complain about the money.  NO question productivity is pushed to the limit, however I feel that other qualities about a job aren't necessarily about money.  Ability to take time off when needed and support from management are valued. As much as we complain about pay....what is the number needed to make you not complain?  Or is it straight up the job itself.  I left the floor for the ER because I did not go to school to fetch a patient another soda, I'm not a concierge.  Yes, it is part of patient care, but the healthcare model itself is leaning more towards hospitality.  Yes, I can take off your bipap cause you demand a cup of hot coffee, but you're gonna die in minutes when I do.  This is dilemma of how its currently set up.

1 hour ago, MountainGoatRN said:

Let's face it, we agree to take a job for a certain amount of money, then complain about the money. 

....in relation to the actual expectations, which were not disclosed at the time anyone was trying to decide that the pay seemed adequate.

So then that really isn't a complaint about the money as much as it is about the misrepresentation and the actual expectations.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

I think it's a-OK to complain about the money. We complain about the money when we get ZERO raises for year after year, not keeping even close to inflation or cost of living. And no amount of money is worth the treatment many nurses encounter after they get "hooked" into a job.

I think it's fair to expect decent pay raises when we see what a "banner" year so many systems are having; profits through the roof, golden parachutes for executives and the like, and we get nothing.

Why not complain about money in that light? And then hope to move on where the money is better.......and treatment more stellar.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

To the OP, I don't say nurses are leaving in "droves". It cycles as far as I can tell,  from nearly 25 years' experience as a nurse. Sometimes, places are not hiring and have an abundance of applicants to chose from. Other times, there are numerous openings but not enough people interested.

What is pretty unprecedented has already been mentioned. A lot of baby boomers are retiring. This was predicted  20+ years ago or more. I remember reading articles discussing this phenomenon and concern over it in 1997 when I graduated. This is a big cycle of nurses leaving for good reason.

It's not a recruitment problem. It's a retention problem. The nurses who ARE working are not being treated well, so they move on or retire early.

That's what I see anyhow.

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

I moved back to acute care a few months ago, since then almost all permanent staff have resigned on my unit including the manager, assistant manager, and clinical team leaders. 

Some transferred to other units, most are becoming travelers, some are going to non bedside positions or advanced practice, some are leaving nursing altogether. 

Bedside nursing in acute, skilled, and long term care becomes more strenuous with each passing year and the pandemic has only compounded this problem. 

The money that is spent on recruitment and sign on bonuses needs to be spent on adequate staffing and retention, surely facilities would save money if they did this I just don't understand why the bean counters don't go this route.

 

Trigeminy, RN

Specializes in Just about everything. Has 24 years experience.

In my facility, nurses have left in droves.  My neuro unit went from 26 full time RNs to 6.  Everyone left for various reasons.  It has happened across the board.  Right now we combined 4 units to be able to staff 1 and are offering insane bonuses (extra 75$/hr) to come in extra at times.  My unit is now a neuromedical-neurosurgical-general med surg-pulmonary stepdown floor that is utilized as a dumping ground.  Administration handled COVID poorly (today your neuro, tomorrow your a COVID floor-here are gowns and masks, good luck).  Many older nurses retired, many younger nurses took outpatient positions.  My phone rings now almost as it had when I was a home health director.  The sad thing is, I see no end in sight before I retire in 16 years 8 months and 11 days.....

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 4 years experience.

Yes. Simply put they can make 2-3x the money for doing the same work. Much more schedule flexibility.