In a Survey, 90% of Nurses Said They Are Considering a Career Change Within the Year

Burnout and overwork were cited in a survey as reasons why many nurses are considering a career change. Learn more about the nursing shortage.

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by Taylor Gadsden

Published on April 22, 2022 · Updated on May 5, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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In a Survey, 90% of Nurses Said They Are Considering a Career Change Within the Year
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As nursing shortages rage on, a new survey by Hospital IQ shows things may be about to get worse.

Of the 200 registered nurses (RNs) surveyed, 90% are considering leaving the nursing profession within the year. Seventy-one percent of respondents with more than 15 years of experience said they may leave within the next few months or as soon as possible.

While it's easy to blame the COVID-19 pandemic as the sole reason nurses are reconsidering their career, many (72%) say they were experiencing burnout well before the pandemic. The worldwide health crisis has only accelerated things.

Improper staffing in U.S. hospitals only makes things harder for those who choose to stick it out.

Forty-three percent of respondents say that a shortage in nursing technicians has left them with additional responsibilities outside of their usual workload. These responsibilities include cleaning units, procuring supplies, and clerical duties.

Many of the daily tasks of registered nurses are still manual and contribute to the burnout many nurses face. Poor processes, lack of technological solutions, and automation have put a heavy burden on understaffed teams, according to Hospital IQ's findings.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents report experiencing increased serious mental health conditions like depression and anxiety due to the work environment and job demands.

Patient Impact

Patients are also feeling the impact. A shortage of nurses means the patient-to-nurse staffing ratio has increased.

Eighty-four percent of emergency room nurses and 96% of intensive care nurses are experiencing 4-to-1 patient-to-nurse ratios, double the target of 2-to-1.

Thirty-six percent of nurses say they've seen patients with acute health conditions leave the emergency room due to increased wait times for in-patient rooms. Thirty-seven percent have seen surgeries rescheduled due to a lack of beds.

Thirty-eight percent of nurses say they've had patients return for post-discharge secondary care. Medication errors or delays, sharps injuries, and healthcare-associated infections are other impacts nurses say they've seen from staffing shortages.

How Hospitals Can Help

Better technology and processes are just a couple of ways respondents say hospitals can improve work environments and retain staff.

Fifty-two percent said streamlined processes aimed toward the communication of patient needs are top of mind. Forty-five percent prioritized better communication and coordination across departments. The RNs also cited better communication and representation in leadership as ways to improve career satisfaction.

According to the chief nursing officer and vice president of client services at Hospital IQ, Shawn Sefton, this isn't the first time hospitals have faced nursing shortages. It's a cycle that's been occurring as far back as the 1970s. However, nursing school graduates have always been available to fill open positions.

But when hospitals are looking for redundancies and ways to trim the budgetary fat, nurses are consistently at the top of the list.

"The problem is, decades of this approach have taken any available slack out of the line. As we've seen over the past couple of years with the just-in-time supply chain we've built for meat or packaged goods, any unplanned disruption of the chain can lead to outsized effects and empty shelves," Sefton said in an interview with Healthcare IT News.

Instead of regarding registered nurses as professionals with institutional knowledge, they're being thought of as interchangeable commodities, she said.

"Not only have licensed RNs been downsized over and over, but acute care settings have also decreased their ratios of professional to non-licensed staff, forcing nurses to practice with fewer resources in diverse healthcare settings," Sefton said.

Thanks to this new normal of leaner staffs, overwhelming workloads, extended shifts, and overscheduling, experienced nurses who once sought to make nursing a lifelong career are looking to take their skills to less stressful positions.

"Leaders must make nurses feel supported, but they also have to show them that they actually are supported, and that comes from a combination of improved processes and management soft skills such as listening and empathy."

— Shawn Sefton, chief nursing officer and vice president of client services at Hospital IQ

If hospitals want to curb their staffing shortages, Sefton advises the integration of technology to optimize nurse abilities and daily experiences — sooner rather than later.

Hospitals and healthcare leaders should also take steps to provide a more communicative environment where nurses feel that they can voice concerns about work processes and feelings of burnout.

"Leaders can't ignore burnout any longer. With nurses halfway out the door, they must listen to nurses' needs, respond with direct action, and implement clear solutions to alleviate the drivers of burnout," Sefton said.

"Leaders must make nurses feel supported, but they also have to show them that they actually are supported, and that comes from a combination of improved processes and management soft skills such as listening and empathy."

Check out all the details from the Hospital IQ survey and ways the healthcare industry can address the nursing shortage.


Are you an RN who is tired of nursing? Read on to learn about seven high-paying career-change options for nurses who want a new career. The nursing field has plenty to offer professionals. Take a look at the main reasons to become a nurse. Discover the highest-paying nursing jobs, and learn what it takes to land one of these in-demand positions.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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