Exit Interviews


I am curious if anyone really tells the truth during their exit interview at a hospital. Our unit has lost about 25 seasoned experienced nurses in the past year and I hear that "management is looking into it". What could they possibly find out since most people are afraid to really speak the truth and run the risk hurting their career. The majority of people leaving don't want to "burn bridges" since some places only have one or two hospitals in their area, or if it's a transfer to another dept they don't want to be labeled troublemakers. If hospitals really wanted to "look into it" they could do an in house (not sent out for analysis) anonymous poll so people could be free to speak out without penalty.


Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

165 Articles; 21,214 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

Personally, I am one of those folks that doesn't believe in burning bridges. I will however say general comments:

"I felt that there would be more opportunities for growth at XYZ hospital or ABC unit."

"As an experienced nurse, I wanted to be able to optimize my skills"

And when in doubt:

"I appreciate the education and experience I got at the current facility but just feel that it is time to move on."

EmmaG, RN

2,999 Posts

My ex-unit director ran off decades of great nursing experience and mis-managed the floor into near oblivion. When she refused to address concerns, a group of nurses took it up the chain only to be harassed by her good buddy and boss. So one by one, they quit. I hung on as long as I could, then quit.

When they called for my exit interview, it was by some firm to whom they'd out-sourced the job. I refused to speak with them and insisted on a call from the hospital's HR department. I kept them on the phone for nearly two hours, maybe longer. I told them everything. I'd worked for that facility from '88 til '05. With that much time invested, they did pay attention. But too little, too late--- for me anyway.


931 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics, Med-Surg..

I received a request for an exit interview and declined. I am still a new nurse and I wasn't willing to burn bridges over issues like short staffing, unsafe conditions that likely will not change until they have zero staff. Just my two cents.

Specializes in Tele, Infectious Disease, OHN. Has 2 years experience.

My experience with exit interviews has been that they KNOW already why I am leaving. It is like preaching to the choir. Now I am among those who are very careful in what I say. The fact is sometimes management changes and things may get better, but if you have a DNR (do not rehire) on your file you will miss out. It is really a sad state of affairs but they hear this stuff every day, and to me their main concern is getting another warm body in there ASAP not trying to keep the ones they have. Just my .02 worth.

EmmaG, RN

2,999 Posts

I burned my bridge. Torched it pretty good. But I am fairly confident I could get hired back on if I wanted to, considering the circumstances surrounding my resignation. But from talking to my former co-workers who have managed to remain, things are only marginally better since my crazy NM was allowed to resign; in fact there has been no permanent manager for over 2 years. The other hospital in town is very much aware of the problems at my old place, and doesn't hold it against the nurses who fled (even those not considered a rehire). So, as much as I miss them and the docs, I'm gone for good. I'll be a greeter at WallyWorld before I go back there...


134 Posts

I told the truth in an exit interview in why I was leaving. I was professional and polite, I felt they should know. The person who took my exit interview was also one of the nurse recruiters. We both spoke very candid of the "problems" on this one particular unit I was leaving. She asked me if I knew if the reasons why some of the other nurses had also departed in the same time-frame (within 2-3 mos). Of course I did know why 3 of the nurses had left prior to me, since they were and still are my friends. I informed her, that sadly, it was for the same reasons. Actually, she was very nice, and she was hoping to find consistent answers to why nurses were leaving particular floors, so she could assist with retention.


116 Posts

You'd like to think that your exit interview would make things better for the people left behind but, unfortunately, it usually doesn't change a thing. All you can do is tell them you're leaving because there is a better opportunity somewhere else and let them read between the lines. If they're smart, they'll know your action says it all, and begin talking to the nurses that are still there to find out what's going on. It's so frustrating that a NM can have make the department miserable with poor management skills, yet no one in Administration has a clue what's wrong. (Or, even worse, maybe they do know, but don't want to deal with it...)


527 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology.

If no one speaks the truth, how are things ever going to change?


109 Posts

Specializes in rehab-med/surg-ICU-ER-cath lab.

(Sorry this is long.) I worked as the first utilization nurse for a major insurance company. This was back in the day where we "recommended" how many days to stay in the hospital based on Dx - before the ax fell and UT. became the monster it is today. I was hired with the knowedge that the first few of us hired were to be fast tracked into needed Manager positions. Being a new department it had it's growing pains but all and all it was a great job. Just before this began to wildly grow and expand the Nurse Manager, that had hired and brought us aong under her wing took an extended maturnity leave. She came back frustrated with the fact that she still needed to wear her maternity dresses and feeling the heart tug of leaving her baby. The shi** hit the fan when she realized while she as gone her 5 fledglings nurses had become Managers with specialty assignments and had 15 to 20 nurses working under them and the department was runing perfectly.

She thought she should have been promoted also but reality was she was out takng care of her sweet baby. With all this on board she was not a happy camper and choose another emploee to vent on. This woman had 20 years with the company and a spotless record - she was given a substandard evaluation. She protested this successfully and retuned to her original department. Next Ms. Unhappy convinced the Director that I was worthless and producing substandard work. This was totally opposite of my last evaluation. I decided that no position was worth this abuse and resigned. Anybody in a Director's position or above can request a exit interview - I received 7 requests - Oh goodness. I approached each the same way. The original Manager was a highly education and qualified for her position. There had been a severe change in her style of leadershiph. Everyone that requested an exit interview received a letter from my Director stating how valuable I was as an employee especially in my research on length of stay criteria. I brought with me a copy of my last evaluation that stated this employee needs much improvement just to fuction at her job and put it next to the letter from the Director for the person to compare.

At the final exit interview the Vice President said "I am no fool, you have been a loyal and valuable employee and an ethical human being for not ranting about the abusive treatment you have received. I always know exactly what is happening in all of my departments. This is a case of pure jealousy and you are being abused as a scape goat. I do not have all the documentation I need at the moment to fire your Manager but she will never be promoted again, ever." He told me I would always be welcome back. I was so lucky to have documentation and by not sinking to her level and being respectful while telling a clean and professtional version of the situation I walked out with my head held high. Sadly, she got what she deserved. After more than three more years of watching all the original nurses continue to be promoted she move on to another company with hopefully a fresh outlook and a lesson learned. Sometmes the little good guys do win!!!!


832 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER. Has 9 years experience.

Exit interviews are a complete waste of time.

If TPTB were doing their jobs, they would already know about problems and correct them before you lose an entire unit staff.

Burning bridges is rarely a good idea, and mouthing empty platitudes like "The new position is a better opportunity for me" or "It is just time for me to move on" is all farce and they know it as well as you do.

The only time I have ever gone to an exit interview (in any field) has been when it was a condition of being eligible for rehire. When I do go to one I speak the plain, bald truth: if this "burns a bridge", then I am better off without the option of going back.

I have always viewed my self-respect as more valuable to me than their job.

Specializes in Telemetry, Case Management. Has 30 years experience.

When I left my last job, I looked forward to an exit interview so I could tell them why every nurse for the last two years had left, including me. Policy stated everyone who gave notice gets an exit interview.

I would have told them exactly what the problem was, and bridges burning be dam#ed. However, no one ever called me to an exit interview. I was quite disappointed, but decided later maybe they knew what the problem was and didn't care.

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