As hospitals continue to struggle with staffing shortages, many nurses are growing frustrated and burnt out, and 50% are considering leaving the profession altogether, according to new survey from OnePoll and connectRN.
Nurses are struggling amid widespread staffing issues
For the survey, connectRN collected responses from 1000 nurses in October about their staffing concerns and how they were feeling about their jobs.
Overall, almost two-thirds (65%) of nurses said that insufficient staffing is one of their biggest current frustrations. Other top frustrations include low wages (39%) and a lack of respect for the work they do (34%).
Many nurses also felt that staffing shortages have negatively impacted patient care. Ninety percent of nurses said they believed the quality of patient care has worsened due to staffing shortages, and 56% said they have seen patients suffer because nurses have too much on their plates.
"Nurses have directly noticed that, in being spread too thin, they're lacking the ability to ensure optimal care," said connectRN CEO Ted Jeanloz. "With so many ongoing health crises happening simultaneously, the last thing we need is for patients to feel like they won’t receive the care they need when they seek medical attention, and for nurses to feel guilty that they can’t be in multiple places at once or provide the best care possible"
Because of their heavy workloads, 55% of nurses said they feel guilty about just taking a break, and 56% said they feel their mental health is at risk because of burnout. A majority (58%) also said they wanted a better work-life balance.
Among the respondents, 50% said they were thinking about leaving their jobs, with 61% citing staffing shortages as the top reason. Sixty percent of nurses also cited staffing shortages for why they don't feel in control of their careers. Roughly half of nurses (51%) also said they don't feel appreciated, and 32% said they don't feel supported by their employer.
"Staffing shortages have created the classic 'doom loop'," Jeanloz said. "Too few nurses means that the remaining nurses are working harder or in short-staffed units, which causes stress and burnout, leading nurses to leave the profession."
"Many nurses entered the profession because it was a calling and is a job they love," he added. "If they feel burnt out and taken advantage of by the system when they show up to work, they will lose sight of why they became nurses in the first place."
How to better support nurses
According to the survey, 58% of nurses do not believe their employers are doing enough to address the current staffing shortages. To help alleviate burnout and improve work performance, many nurses reported more time off is needed.
For example, nurses said they would need four more days off each month to feel recharged at work. In addition, 65% said they would like to have a four-day weekend for their ideal work schedules. Some nurses also requested more modest changes, such as more time to eat a full lunch (46%) and more breaks in general (28%).
Other changes that would help nurses feel more empowered and want to stay in the profession include better communication with upper management, the ability to negotiate their salaries, better equipment and medical gear, and more promotion opportunities.
"We ultimately need to get back to basics with how we treat the nursing community," Jeanloz said. "We've seen several seismic shifts in work culture for so many industries including the option to work from home, and being offered days off for their mental and physical health when they need them. While nurses can't work from home, we can give them the same flexibility we've afforded to white collar workers, in addition to showing them gratitude and treating them as partners rather than commodities." (Gordon, Forbes, 11/8; Mensik, Healthcare Dive, 11/8; connectRN Industry Insights 2022, accessed 11/10)