HR leaders in healthcare systems have a problem: nurses are leaving the profession. According to a recent survey, a full 8-out-of-10 nurses know a colleague who has left the field.
The exit rate was one of the most striking figures from the recent American Nurse Today
Bright Horizons survey of more than 1,000 clinical nurses. The survey asked about underlying sources of stress and exhaustion, and the types of support nurses need to keep doing their jobs.
What else did we learn?
Clinician burnout is rampant
2/3 of nurses say burnout-related turnover is a problem at their organization. It's even worse in hospitals where 71% of nurses say it's a problem.
Those who have left are the tip of the iceberg
A full half of respondents said they've considered leaving their profession in the last six months.
Work/life balance is the culprit
Those 8-of-10 nurses who know someone who left the profession cited challenges between work and family as the problem.
The work/family conflicts aren't surprising; 85% of surveyed nurses have at least one dependent, and more than 40% are "sandwiched" between an aging parent and a child. That the vast majority of nurses are women also means they're carrying most of the weight of their family's care
, creating stress that impacts jobs, causes missed shifts and burnout, and leading people to leave the profession. It's no wonder that benefits factored heavily into what nurses say drove them to their jobs, and why one author wrote that salary
is just a part of what it will take to attract and keep them.
Doctor Burnout is a Real Problem Too
And the clinician burnout problem isn't exclusive to nurses. Multiple studies show that work/life balance is equally problematic for physicians
. It adds up to a big hurdle for organizations that are uniquely dependent on clinicians (doctors and
nurses) not just for patient outcomes, but also for high-quality patient ratings that drive reimbursement, and so financial success. Without taking action to help combat the sources of burnout, organizations face the prospect of losing clinicians at the very moment it's becoming increasingly harder to recruit them.
Supporting work/life balance will be key. And benefits will play a prominent role, evidenced by what nurses had to say about child care - that they'd commit five years to an employer that offered it. With the number of female physicians on the rise - roughly half of today's medical students
are women - health systems will have another key demographic asking for help for their children and families.
Doctors say so themselves. As one physician pointedly told us about child care, "If it goes, I go
Watch our webinar on-demand for more of the survey's key findings, with expert commentary from American Nurse Today's Editor-in-Chief and a healthcare system CHRO.