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Why Nurses Are Leaving the Profession

Nurses are working outside the profession in a wide range of different jobs, and dissatisfaction with the nursing workplace is one of the main reasons, according to a 2008 study "Nurses Working Outside of Nursing."

According to the study, of the 2.9 million registered nurses in the United States, 4.2 percent were working in non-nursing employment while 12.1 percent were not working in any employment whatsoever. Many reasons for not working in the nursing field were related to job satisfaction, with more than 27 percent of nurses saying nurse burnout or stressful work environment was the reason they stopped working, 27 percent said it was the physical demands, 20 percent reported inadequate staffing in hospitals, and 20 percent claimed that inconvenient scheduling was the reason they quit. Many nurses are also not working anymore because of personal reasons, with 38.4 percent leaving because of home and family obligations and 44.6 percent because they wanted to retire, reported the study. When it comes to the shortage nurse retirement is going to continue to affect the field in the future. According to a 2006 study "Nursing Management Aging Workforce Survey" by the Bernard Hodes Group, 55 percent of nurses that were surveyed said they intended on retiring between the year 2011 and 2020.

According to the report "The 2007 State of American's Hospitals -Taking the Pulse" by the American Hospital Association, hospitals will need 116,000 registered nurses to fill empty positions in the United States, which results in a vacancy rate of 8.1 percent. Although enrollment in nursing programs is slowing increasing each year, the number of students who are expected to graduate from these programs and become registered nurses is still not enough to bridge the nursing gap. Registered nurses leaving the profession is only contributing further to the nurse shortage problem and making it hard for those that do stay. In the 2005 study “Is the Shortage of Hospital RNs Getting Better or Worse?” more than 75 percent of registered nurses believed that the shortage was a major problem for the quality of patient care, the amount of time nurses can spend with their patients, and ultimately the quality of their work life. Ninety-eight of the nurses surveyed saw the shortage as a problem in the future increasing stress on nurses, 93 percent thought that it would lower the quality of care that patients receive, and 93 percent said it would eventually causes nurses to leave their profession.