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How to Stop Unhappy Nurses From Leaving

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2013

The results of a survey of registered nurses present something of a paradox for nurse leaders. The survey of nearly 3,000 RNs showed that nurses are happier than ever with their career choices. Yet about 30% of them aren't happy with their current jobs.

Marcia Faller, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer at AMN Healthcare, which conducted the survey, says it's a finding that should make nurse leaders stop and listen. The fact that many nurses want to find a new job is a clear sign that a lack of a nursing shortage is no excuse for leaders to start slacking off on their recruitment and retention.

"Nurse leaders really need to pay attention," she says. "You really do need to continue on those efforts."



How can nurses be both satisfied with their careers but unhappy with their jobs? Faller has a theory. She believes that nursing's importance has been thrust into the limelight over the past few years, thanks in part to the findings of the IOM's landmark Future of Nursing report, for example.

Yet in many instances, that societal shift hasn't trickled down to nurses' day-to-day working lives. "I'm not sure that the workplace changes have taken place as fast," Faller says. "People don't leave their jobs; they leave their manager and their leaders."

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2 comments on "How to Stop Unhappy Nurses From Leaving"


Anne McDivitt (2/25/2013 at 2:58 AM)
1. It is true that nurses have these internal motivator within them. 2. Hospitals use this by getting free work from nurses. 3. If nurses really want a degree, they should use those hours that they spend at work doing free unpaid, volunteer work and go to school. 4. Nurses leave the workplace because of management pressure to do volunteer work. 5. The motivated nurse uses the hours wisely by getting a masters degree that will follow them in any institution. 6. The real problem is that nurse executives need to see RNs as professionals and if they give compensation as credits towards a degree, it's a win for the hospital to keep their smart nurses and a win for the nurse to get her degree. Hospitals with schools do that well. 7. Unfortunately nurse leaders that work for profit see nurses as liabilities rather than assets- sad but true.

Alice Peterson, RN, MPH, CHES, CMSRN (2/8/2013 at 1:41 PM)
All true! And I want to add, we must consider that the pyramid gets narrower at the top. In the future, when many more nurses have advanced degrees, will they be happy with the lower salaries and job titles at the bottom? Eventually, what happens when one asks, "There is a lot of competition for one job. When will I get to use these theories and skills I have learned at the executive level?""