Nursing is an amazing profession. Not only do you get paid to help others, but you also get paid a competitive wage and have lots of room to change or grow during your career. However, nurses can find themselves overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out. This can cause a nurse to quit his or her job or even leave the profession entirely.
7 Reasons Why Nurses Quit
While nurses can leave a job for many reasons, here are seven of the most common reasons that I’ve seen nurses quit a job or leave the profession.
Reason #7: A Lack of Support for New Nurses
Transitioning from student-nurse to working as a nurse on your own can be a daunting task. Some healthcare facilities provide excellent support and training for new nurses. However, when a new nurse graduate has to deal with a lack of quality training, a lack of support from the other nurses (nurses eating their own), and so forth, it can cause the new grad to get discouraged and eventually give up and quit.
Reason #6: Too Many Rules and Regulations
Rules and regulations are great up to a certain point, because they promote patient safety and encourage the best practices in healthcare. However, when nurses get bogged down with excessive red tape, they can quickly burn out. Nurses can begin to feel as if they can’t give the patient the quality of care they deserve. They can feel as if they can never dot every “i” or cross every “t.” As a result, some nurses get overwhelmed and quit.
Reason #5: Poor Management and Toxic Coworkers
When it comes to management, you want to have a manager who can listen to the staff and steer the unit in a good direction. When that doesn’t happen, workers can become disgruntled. I’ve seen instances where certain floors had a very high turnover of management, and workers were constantly complaining about it and quitting, especially if they disliked the new management style.
In addition, an unhealthy coworker relationship has caused many nurses to quit a job. When gossip, cliques, and drama start to develop, units can begin to have a serious problem retaining staff. Some nurses will say things such as, “these are my patients and those are your patients,” and refuse to help other nurses. Alternatively, some nurses refuse to pull their own weight and may ask for help too often, which can cause problems among the other workers.
Reason#4: The Pay
Nurses earn a competitive salary, but I’ve seen nurses quit over their pay rate. What can happen is this: nurses will get hired in at a certain hourly pay rate. They will work hard year after year, yet they will only get a very small raise each year. Then, a new grad will be hired on earning almost the same amount of money as the nurse who has been working on the unit much longer.
Nurses can begin to feel as though they will never advance very much in pay unless they quit and begin working for another employer. Therefore, some nurses will quit their job to pursue a new area of nursing.
Reason #3: Nursing Can Be Physically Grueling
While some areas of nursing aren’t physically taxing, some areas, such as bedside nursing, can be physically exhausting. You may have to lift patients, restrain patients, turn patients, push a heavy medical cart, stay on your feet for nearly 12 hours, and other tasks that can wear you out physically (and mentally!).
Some nurses can develop injuries such as bad backs, bad knees, etc. after working in this environment for years, and may decide to quit their job.
Reason #2: Caregiver Burnout
Burnout can occur in any profession, and nursing is no exception, Nurses may begin to feel overwhelmed if they work in a fast-paced environment, especially if their patients have high acuity or if they work in very stressful “life or death” circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic also pushed many nurses (and other healthcare workers) to new levels of stress. As a result, some nurses have developed burnout and have quit.
Reason #1: Staffing Issues
Nurses have been complaining about staffing issues for years. In all fairness, employers can’t always predict when a nurse will become sick or fail to show up for a shift. Nevertheless, when nurses are understaffed on a regular basis, it can amplify their stress levels and make many of the things listed above even worse.
For example, when nurses are short-staffed, their nursing shift may even be more physically demanding. They may have even less support or help from other staff, and so on.
When nurses feel that they have to cut corners or that they can’t provide safe or appropriate care to their patients, they may feel as though they should quit and work at a different facility with a better work atmosphere.
Conclusion: Those Are Some Common Reasons Why Nurses Quit
Although some nurses have had bad experiences and ultimately quit a job, I’d encourage nurses not to give up on the profession entirely. Yes, nursing can be tough. However, nursing is one of the most amazing professions in the world. Not only are there many different specialties you can pursue, but you always have the option of advancing to higher positions (management), going back to get another degree, moving to a different specialty, working in a different setting, etc.
In other words, don’t let one bad experience turn you off to the entire profession.
I’ve known some nurses who have been so burned out and have regretted going into nursing. However, they quit a job they didn’t like, and went to work for a different area of nursing in a totally different setting. After making the change, they fell in love with nursing all over again.