Understand how we got here — and how to move forward.


January 27, 2017

Survey: 1 in 5 nurses would opt for a different career

Daily Briefing

    About one in five nurses would pick another career if given the chance to start over, according to a Medscape survey.

    For its "Nurses Career Satisfaction Report 2016," Medscape surveyed 10,026 practicing nurses.

    Most nurses glad they became nurses

    The results show that the overwhelming majority of respondents—95 percent—said they were glad they became nurses. But fewer said they would choose nursing as a career if given the chance to do it again.

    According to the survey, the percentage of respondents who would choose nursing as a career again was:

    • 73 percent among certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs);
    • 79 percent among registered nurses (RNs);
    • 80 percent among nurse practitioners (NPs);
    • 81 percent among licensed practical nurses (LPNs);
    • 81 percent among nurse midwives (NMs); and
    • 85 percent among clinical nurse specialists (CNSs).

    Male nurses were significantly more likely than female nurses to say they would choose a different career path. Twenty-seven percent of male nurses said they would choose another career, compared with 19 percent of female nurses, the survey found.

    Respondents with longer tenure as nurses were also more likely to say they wish they'd chosen a different path. No respondents who'd been in the field for less than a year said they would pick another career—but 21 percent of those with more than 21 years of experience said they wish they had pursued another career, according to the survey.

    The survey also found that while the majority of nurses said they would pursue nursing again, most indicated that they would choose another practice setting. According to the survey, nurses working in hospital inpatient care were most likely to say they would choose the same setting (28 percent), while those at a skilled nursing facility (11 percent), or contract/agency positions (12 percent), or home health (15 percent) were the least likely to opt for the same setting.

    Most, least satisfying aspects of the job

    When asked about the least satisfying aspect of the job, the most commonly cited factor varied among different groups of respondents, with:

    • RNs (19 percent), NPs (34 percent), and CNSs (21 percent) most often citing the amount of documentation they have to do;
    • CRNAs (31 percent) most often listing the lack of respect from physicians, peers, or managers; and
    • LPs (23 percent) most often cited the amount of money they are paid.

    When it comes to the single most rewarding aspect of the job:

    Get the national prescription for nurse engagement

    The National Prescription for Nurse Engagement

    It's more important than ever for frontline nurses to be engaged in their work, committed to their organization's mission, and capable of delivering high-quality care in a complex and constantly changing environment.

    This report identifies the unique challenges of engaging nurses and equips nurse leaders with five strategies for building a highly engaged workforce.

    Have a Question?


    Ask our experts a question on any topic in health care by visiting our member portal, AskAdvisory.