This is a question that hospital managers need to figure out. If they can figure out the answer to why are nurses leaving, they could probably come up with possible solutions to this problem.
Who Is Leaving?
One of the first things that management probably should do is look at statistically which nurses are leaving. Is it the older nurse? Is it the nurse that has been there for years? Is it the new graduate? Is it the male nurse or the female nurse? Where does the nurse work in the hospital? Does she work in a high stress job such as in the ER or the ICU? What is her position at the hospital? Is she married or single and does she have children? How far does she travel to get to work and back every day? Which shift does she work on? Does she work full time or part-time?
These are things that need to be looked at and relate specifically to the nurse that is leaving. If management looks at each one of these things and starts keeping track of them for all those that leave, the facility may begin to see a pattern or at least begin to understand the issues.
There are things that need to be assessed that relate to the facility and may show some light onto why the nurse is leaving. Some of these might be staffing issues. Is the unit that she works on short-staffed all of the time? Are the nurses overworked? Is the patient/nurse ratio too high? What is the mood or attitude on the unit? Is there an issue with the particular person in charge and the nurses? How is she treated by her manager and/or by the other staff on the unit? Do the nurses get deployed frequently? Do they rotate shifts? Is there a support system for the staff?
How Do Some Of These Statistics Relate To Leaving?
If the nurse is older she may be ready to retire. She may have worked for many years or basically most of her life at this job and she is tired and ready to leave and do what she would like to do and/or just relax. On the other hand if the nurse is young, she may have other opportunities or may want something more challenging. She may feel that it is too challenging and feel inadequate in this particular job. She may want to go on to school and move up the ladder.
A new graduate nurse just starting her career is miles from the nurse that has been working there for many, many years and is at the end of her career. A new nurse may leave to move up the ladder and she may even be moving to a new area of the country or state. She may be going on to graduate school to move up the ladder in the future. In a rare instance, the new nurse may decide that after working as a nurse for a very short time, she does not like nursing. She does not want to be a nurse, so quits for this reason. The nurse that has been there for a very long time, probably has lived in the area for as long and has no plans to move to another part of the country or state unless it is to retire in a warmer climate or other area of her choosing for retirement purposes.
I am not sure that it really matters what one’s gender is except for statistical records. The only thing that I can think of is that it seems like the male nurse moves into management faster than the female nurse, so this might be a factor in his leaving. I don’t know that there is any proof of this, either, but this is just something that I hypothesize and if it is true that may be a reason for him moving to another geographical area.
Maybe the nurse does not like the unit she is working in or the type of unit she is working on. Maybe she does not like working with all orthopedic patients, or pediatrics or some other specialty. Maybe she does like the head nurse on that unit or the people that she works with on that unit. All of these things play a part in her satisfaction or dissatification and desire to leave. If the nurse works in high stress areas such as the ER or an intensive care unit, burnout is more prevalent and happens quicker than in some other units. If one works on a unit where the mortality rate is higher or where families are stressed and emotional, nurses become effected by this.
Sometimes the position that she holds may be a factor. Many times when a nurse goes from being a staff nurse to a supervisor position, she has a hard time and may decide that it is not for her. Of course, this could be easily resolved, but going back to her former position may not be something she can do. On the other hand, the opposite might be true. Maybe the nurse does not like being a staff nurse and wants to be a manager. If this is not an option she might choose to move on to a place where she might become a supervisor.
I, also, mentioned, whether the nurse is married or single. The only reason I mentioned this is because sometimes it is easier to move if she is single or opposite to this is she is married and her spouse gets a job in another city or state, she needs to move with him to wherever his new job is. The same goes for whether she has children or not. It probably is not as easy to just leave if you have a family that depends on her both financially and they are established in a school system.
Sometimes the distance that one travels to get to work makes a distance. If she could work at a place that is closer and have the same pay and benefits she might decide that it makes more sense to change. The shift that she works and the part that this plays is probably self-explanatory. There may be many reasons for leaving for a shift change and clearly this is understandable. Leaving because she either wants to work part-time or return to l full-time work is pretty clear as well. Things in one’s life change and she needs to do the same.
I think that the reasons I mentioned regarding the facility where she works are all pretty clear, as well. Short staffing for example, is major and unfortunately true for most facilities, today, and when one works under these conditions, stress is increased for the nurses and sooner or later nurses can no longer take it. All of these things play an important part in nurse’s leaving.
Possible Solutions To The Findings
It is important for management to keep track of all of these things as a nurse leaves. If this is done, changes to prevent this from happening might be put into place and maybe the attrition level will be less. Many of the issues seem pretty easy the deal with. At the very least it sheds some light on why nurses are leaving. Only when you know exactly what the problem is, ie: why are nurses leaving, can a possible solution be found and tried out. This is called using the Problem Solving Method. If one does not do this, then the problem continues and gets worse.
The purpose of this post was to explore some of the reasons for nurses leaving nursing. Another post would explore what some of the possible solutions are.
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There are many reasons why nurses are leaving their chosen profession. Management needs to keep track of reasons that are given by those leaving and try to figure out what is actually going on and then work on how to solve some of these issues. Obviously, some can not be changed, but that is not true of all of the problems. Management needs to focus on these issues and try to resolve them so that there will no longer be shortages.
If anyone has questions or comments please leave them below and I will get back to you.