The field of nursing is in dire need of a management revolution, given that the healthcare industry is in dire need of additional workers and existing management schemes are clearly insufficient are garnering them. Figuring out why nurses leave or stay in the job is an important part of the job for healthcare managers right now, largely because finding and cementing enough nurses into important positions is going to be a crucial element of delivering positive patient outcomes for the remainder of the 21st century.
Here are some common reasons why nurses leave or stay in the job, and how hospitals and the healthcare industry need to change in order to become more nurse friendly.
There's no silver bullet
For those in search of a silver bullet that will enable them to make one change to their workplace in order to get more nurses to stay, it's important to realize that there's no one-size-fits-all strategy for positive nurse management. You need to focus on a diverse set of reasons that nurses leave or stay in the job, largely because few of them leave for any singular reason but instead cite a plethora of problems before they up and quit.
According to one comprehensive study focused on optimizing the nursing workforce, the most commonly cited reason for leaving their jobs as nurses was dissatisfaction with the working environment. This should come as little surprise, as no one can be expected to toil endlessly in a hostile work environment where it's hard to chase your ambitions and develop as a person and professional alike. Nurses across all age groups and demographics, including male nurses in men's scrubs, claimed that a lackluster working environment was the primary reason they left, so don't think that only certain groups are feeling pressured in the workspace, either.
Furthermore, the recent report illustrates something that's been common sense in the healthcare industry for years now; the nurses that leave the job are usually the ones most recently hired. Veteran nurses have grown thick skins and are capable of dealing with nearly anything, but new professionals just beginning to foray into the world of nursing quickly find it unpalatable and leave after only a short stint in a hospital. The most nurse-friendly hospitals in the country are largely those which make newcomers feel welcome and manage to get them to stick around for the long run.
Besides being a warm and welcoming environment for new nurses to find their footing in, modern hospitals and healthcare facilities must also remain flexible so that they can meet the ever-changing demands of a modern nursing workforce. Nurses and their needs change over time, so thinking that a stagnant strategy that's as old as healthcare itself can be relied upon is a foolish mistake.
Older nurses need help, too
Despite the intense focus being put on recruiting and retaining talented young professionals, it's also a matter of fact that old nurses need help, too, and can't be ignored by healthcare management officials. Helping older nurses stay in the workforce requires listening to their needs and coming up with
comprehensive strategies to make them feel welcome, well-paid, and appreciated in their daily lives.
Many managers are trying to give older nurses greater flexibility when it comes to managing their hours, for instance, because existing scheduling operations are far too rigid for a modern, dynamic workforce.
The increased digitization of the medical industry will also prove to be a challenge to older nurses, who may require additional IT training before they become familiar and comfortable with the latest medical technology. Despite the challenge of educating older workers about tech, it's important that hospitals make the effort to keep older nurses up to date, as hoping that the rate of technological advance slows down isn't an option. Rather than avoiding confronting the digital nature of the economy, you have to embrace it and realize that modern hospitals are becoming IT operations in and of themselves.
Finally, nurses leave because they simply feel overworked and overwhelmed by the circumstances of their employment; if too few healthcare professionals are staffing a unit, then it's only a matter of time until that unit is overrun, and its nurses and doctors suffer from a burnout. Managers should take special steps to ensure that adequate staffing is available at all times, as units that have to deal with intense surges in patient demand can often lose their nurses as a result of overwork. When most nurses stay in the job, it's largely because they feel comfortable that they have allies who can help them with their daily responsibilities.
Keeping nurses around requires appreciating the hard work they do and paying them adequately, especially since we need so many more healthcare professionals in this day and age. Why nurses leave or stay in the job will always continue to change, too, so remaining flexible and constantly listening to the needs of nurses is going to be an essential part of crafting a better healthcare system.