As 43% of nurses consider departing the profession, can hospitals step up?

Nurses are continuing to leave their profession amid the ongoing staffing crisis. The question now is, can hospitals and health systems change enough to keep them in their profession?

Nineteen percent of nurses intend to leave their current positions in the next six months, and of that percentage, at least 43 percent are considering departing nursing altogether, data from a January American Nurses Foundation survey found. 

Overall, the survey results revealed something many in the industry already know: Nurses nationwide are burnt out, and they've been feeling this way even before the pandemic. 

"Some hospitals recognized there was a problem before the pandemic and tried to fix it," an article in The New York Times states, noting that some hospitals, like Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins, had implemented mindfulness and stress-reduction programming to help healthcare workers prevent burnout before COVID-19 struck.

But the pandemic changed things and left these professionals with "no time to think about mindfulness or meditation."

On top of that, even with staffing rates suffering in the profession, those who still want to enter the nursing profession are facing barriers, including more than 60,000 nursing school applicants being turned away for various reasons throughout the past year, according to the American Nurses Association.

"As experienced nurses leave the profession, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for students to get the hands-on, in-hospital training that is necessary for the profession, which in turn leads to nursing schools not producing enough graduates to fill the gap," the article states. 

Attracting professors to nursing schools has also become challenging because they tend to make significantly less money teaching than actively practicing. 

"Fix the burnout and staffing issues … and the infrastructure can once again support the necessary amount of new graduates needed to fill the nursing gap," Mensik Kennedy, PhD, RN, of the American Nurses Association, told The New York Times. "The most important way to start, she said, is to regularly measure nurses' stress levels, to take action when they begin to climb and to change the glorification of working without breaks."

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