Leaving job because of unsafe staffing - what do I say on my next job app?

by SoManyChickens SoManyChickens (New) New

Has 1 years experience.

I am leaving my job because of unsafe staffing levels on my floor. Without getting into all the details, it is a situation that is unlikely to change anytime soon, and it is damaging to the staff and dangerous for the patients.

My question is this: what do I give as the "reason you left last job" on future job applications? Is it considered bad form to say that unsafe staffing levels were the reason? I'm not trying to "rat out" my employer or badmouth them, but it is the truth.

Thank you.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 41 years experience. 1 Article; 3,836 Posts

"I was uncomfortable with the working conditions and culture of the unit"


Specializes in PACU, pre/postoperative, ortho. Has 11 years experience. 1,111 Posts

How about simply stating you're looking to explore new opportunities & expand your experience? There's also the "not a good fit" answer.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 16 years experience. 224 Articles; 27,608 Posts

In general, it's a horrible idea to complain about previous employers or say anything to paint them in a negative light, regardless of how true your complaints may be. New hiring managers may wonder if you'll complain about the staffing at their facility.

Keep things light and breezy. You're leaving your current job to explore new opportunities and take your career in a new direction. You are thankful for all the opportunities your current employer has bestowed upon you.

Do not mention unsafe staffing because it might make you look whiny. Do not paint your current manager in a negative light. Good luck to you.



832 Posts

When I see "unsafe staffing" described as a reason people leave their jobs, I am not inclined to believe that 100% of nurses making those claims are actually working "unsafely." I would be willing to bet that a handful of them claiming "unsafe staffing" are either slow learners, or just don't know how to manage their time.

Using that as your "why I left my last job" isn't something I'd want to see on an application unless the place you worked at has already developed a reputation for unsafe staffing.

In one instance, the DON approached me and told me that a new hire was claiming that staffing was unsafe as she had to pass meds for 33 residents. She had orientation on this wing and the meds were very straightforward. I offered to do her diabetic residents and I kept a close eye on her when doing this. Well, turns out that passing meds doesn't mean sitting down and chatting with each resident for 5-10 minutes.

The message I am trying to get across is that unsafe staffing claims aren't necessarily the product of a workplace and do not reflect well on those making such claims.



Specializes in Gastroenterology, PACU. 100 Posts

You know, I left my first workplace for unsafe staffing. Part of it was because of new administration and a high turnover rate. I was literally caring for 19 psych patients on my own, and when codes were called, I was on the floor doing fifteen minute checks without even a tech. And a lot of my patients had a history of violence. Never mind that I did not even have a preceptor, because there weren't any to be had. I oriented with the nurse educator for three shifts and was left on my own. I was the senior most nurse after being there for three months. It was absolutely bonkers and the worst experience of my life.

Did I say that on job apps? No. I think I said, "looking to be in field more suitable to my interests." And in my interview, when the hiring manager asked where I last worked, and I told her where, the look of pity on her face said she knew EXACTLY what the conditions were and why I was really leaving, even though I never said it, to this day. A lot of the times, managers know what conditions are at other facilities. Word gets around.



Has 1 years experience. 5 Posts

Thank you, everyone.