Medhealth Review

More and More Nurses Quitting the Profession, An Analysis of the Scenario

The medical world may soon be facing massive nursing staff burnout. There is widespread apprehension among nurses for various reasons such as strenuous working hours, unsatisfactory pay, abusive patients, or a pathetic working environment. Therefore, governing bodies have to take immediate action to avoid staffing burnout.

The impact is already evident among medical professionals and the healthcare industry as a whole. 

Before going further, here are some statistics to consider:

A study by AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) confirms that around 66% of critical care and acute care nurses are contemplating quitting the profession.

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The AACN also highlights that a large number of Nurse are not happy with continuing as a nurse.

A survey carried out towards the end of 2021 covered about 9000 nurses, of which only 40% said they were comfortable with being a nurse. Even more disturbing is that the same number was about 62% in 2018. The number of nurses unhappy with the profession is only going to increase in the future, feels industry observers. 

Furthermore, another survey by Incredible Health, a nurse staffing firm, informs that more than 1/3rd of nursing professionals will resign from their roles towards the end of 2022.

The nation is confronting a significant shortage of Nursing staff. Industry observers have expressed concern over the deficit and feel it is likely to persist until at least 2030 or beyond.

Towards 2030, 7 states in the U.S may experience a severe shortage of nursing staff.

Yet, it is noteworthy that the shortage of nursing staff is not a contemporary issue, as it has persisted since the early 2010s. The country has been unable to rectify the case at the earliest. Nurses have always asked for increased support and more staff for some time, even before the onset of covid-19. 

Why Are Nurses Unhappy?

Although the shortage of experienced and entry-level nurses has been a persistent problem, a few recent developments have aggravated the situation—the most significant among them being the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. 

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Nursing has always been a strenuous job. However, the recent decades have seen a series of hospital consolidations which has helped hold down nurses’ pay. Further, this issue has been the fundamental cause of understaffing. 

Understaffing is one of the most compelling reasons behind moral burnout and distress. Besides causing a heavy increase in the workload of nursing staff, the lack of enough nurses may impact the quality of patient care. 

Safety at the workplace is another concern highlighted by some of the nurses. A survey released in April by the National Nurses United says roughly half of the nursing professionals employed with hospitals expressed safety concerns. In addition, they agree that there has been an evident increase in workplace violence. 

Another survey by the AACN supports these findings. The survey tells us that only less than half of the nursing professionals were confident that their safety was given importance. 

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Regardless of the location, the covid-19 has aggravated the problems encountered by nursing professionals.

During the early days of the covid-19 spread, nurses and other professionals involved in the healthcare sector were buoyed by a grateful group of patients. However, as the pandemic became more dominant and showed widespread presence, the medical professionals sometimes became the victims of patients’ hostility. Besides, the entire medical fraternity was reeling under immense pressure to handle the situation marked by uncertainty, extreme panic, the uncontrollable spread of the disease, and a lack of knowledge about the symptoms as they varied for every individual. More than anything else, the entire situation was new, even for veterans with years of experience handling chronic illnesses or emergencies.

About 44% of nursing professionals reported physical abuse during the early days of the corona virus. 

The working hours during the days of the pandemic also meant caretakers who were mentally and physically exhausted. The condition prevailed longer than expected, with the virus dominating the way the world functioned during its peak. 

The nurse and patient ratio were somewhat from 1 to 14 during the days of the pandemic, whereas 1 to 4 will be something manageable.

As we already know, the shortage of nursing staff was already prevalent even before the pandemic. This applies to other problems nurses face:

  • Long working hours
  • The highly strenuous nature of the job
  • Employers are not giving adequate importance to the safety of nurses in the workplace

The pandemic has only aggravated these conditions and has been the primary cause of significant displeasure among nurses in recent times.

Also, many nurses are nearing their retirement age. Without urgent actions by the authorities, massive retirement in subsequent years will lead to a huge gap that is not going to be easy to tackle. 

There is a lack of qualified nursing faculty, which affects education and training. It wasn’t very long ago that (in 2019) nursing schools in America rejected around 80400 qualified nursing applicants. There was significantly less shortage of qualified faculty, resources, and education space.

In short, the nation can’t say healthcare is unhappy for justifiable reasons. However, these problems will only worsen if not addressed, leading to a more intense burnout. What is imperative here is that the issues mentioned earlier can be improved with adequate measures. 

The current shortage can be converted into a great opportunity as several vacancies for nurses will be generated in the following years.

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