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The 7 Most Common Reasons Healthcare Workers Are Quitting

The last few years have seen a lot of problems in healthcare that have had an effect on pay and working conditions. Many workers have quit the industry because of these problems, which has increased the need for healthcare worker jobs as workers look for other possibilities. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that almost 500,000 nurses will retire by the end of 2024. This will leave the country short of more than one million nurses.

This number will also have an impact on hospitals, long-term care facilities, and assisted living facilities, as nurses leaving bedside nursing may make staff members more stressed and lower the level of care for patients. It’s important for you as the manager, administrator, or CEO of your nursing home to know what’s going on in healthcare and why healthcare workers are leaving their jobs. If you know the main reasons why nurses are leaving, you can stay ahead of the curve and find better ways to run your business.

Why Are Nurses Quitting Their Job?

There is a wide range of staff in healthcare, such as nurses and doctors, who have dealt with mental, social, and physical problems, like being tired. This has caused a lot of people to leave the healthcare field, which costs a lot. Studies show that replacing a worker costs around twice as much as their salary. This is why retention rates are so important.

When employees leave, it affects more than just the bottom line. It also affects patient care, treatment results, and productivity. It can be expensive and time-consuming to train new healthcare workers, like nurses. This can leave your system short-staffed. One study found a direct link between high rates of job turnover and high rates of patient death. Stress about money or the stress of the job can also make people less productive and even cause medical mistakes.

Let’s look more closely at the seven main reasons nurses are leaving the medical field.

1. The COVID-19 outbreak

Everyone who works in health care, but especially nurses, was under a lot of physical, social, and mental stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to a lack of masks and gloves across the country, many staff members, from nurses in hospitals to caregivers in assisted living homes, worked long shifts and used the same ones more than once.

The stress of the pandemic also made it hard for nurses to see their families, which made a lot of them lose interest in how they used to love caring for people. Some people got COVID and were unable to work anymore. These problems made nurses who stayed in the field angry and made a lot of them want to quit.

Every year, nursing schools train about 190,000 new nurses. But by their second year, 33% of these nurses leave their jobs at the bedside. Things are even worse now that the plague is over. Since the pandemic began, almost one in five people who work in health care have quit.

Since the pandemic is over and quarantine times have shortened, there is more relief in the work force. However, many nurses may still be feeling the effects of the pandemic and think the industry isn’t ready to meet their needs.

There is also a lot of stress around the COVID-19 vaccine for nurses, since some healthcare places may require all staff to get it. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) did a study that found that 40% of assisted living facilities said that state and employer vaccination rules were the hardest thing about hiring new staff.

2. Tiredness

When you feel overwhelmed all the time, you can get burnout, which is a serious form of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion and stress. Burnout can happen to a lot of people who feel emotionally drained or like they can’t handle the demands of their job and personal life. However, there are many other reasons and symptoms of burnout.

There is a lot of burnout in the healthcare business, but it can happen in any job. Many nurses, even those with years of experience, find it hard to handle the stress of care for others during a pandemic and in general. According to one study, 44% of nurses wanted to quit their jobs because they were tired of their jobs and the workplace was too stressful.

Because of how their jobs work, caregivers can take a big mental toll on their staff. Along with burnout, nurses may feel a lot of stress and pain because they deal with illness and death all the time. Health care workers want to help their patients and residents, and it can be frustrating if their stress makes them feel like they can’t do anything.

A lot of nurses who deal with stress are also more likely to have other mental illnesses and depressive disorders. When nurses deal with a lot of different sources of stress, they may also become mentally distant or even angry with patients and coworkers. This is called exhaustion.

Also Read: 7 Ways To Improve Healthcare Staff Communication

3. Worries About Money and Limited Work Perks

Stress over money and lack of benefits are two other main reasons nurses are leaving. It’s easy to see how worry over money could affect nurses’ health and ability to do their jobs, especially during a pandemic or when there aren’t enough staff. Many workers in the US are stressed about money, including those in healthcare who are already dealing with burnout.

When your employees are stressed out about money and their feelings, it’s hard for them not to bring those feelings into their work. The nursing staff may not be as happy and focused on their work if they have to worry about money issues. This can lower the level of care for residents and patients.

Instead of raising wages, though, many hospitals and other health care facilities have started offering sign-on bonuses to get new nurses. From 16% in 2020 to 58% in 2021, there was a big rise in offers with sign-on bonuses in Texas. The amounts of these bonuses were between $5,000 and $10,000, but income in the state have gone down by 5% in the last year. Also, many permanent nurses feel like they have to compete for jobs with travel nurses who tend to have much better pay rates.

These differences in pay can make people very unhappy, which is another problem that can make nurses want to quit their jobs in assisted living or long-term care homes and cause more turnover.

Nurses also want better job benefits, like more paid time off, rules for paternity leave, and job security, that will make them want to stay in their jobs even though the work conditions are hard. It’s easy to see why many nurses feel undervalued and look for work in other fields: they’ve lost benefits and had their raises canceled, and they have to work longer hours. When nurses are worried about money and think their work isn’t worth it because they don’t get perks, they may leave to find jobs that give them more freedom and more chances to move up in their careers.

4. Working Environment

Working Environment

More than any other health care worker, nurses have to deal with pain, stress, and death in a wide range of situations. If working conditions aren’t up to par, it can be hard for people who work in long-term care or assisted living homes to take care of residents and feel responsible for so many loved ones. Working conditions include a lot of different things, such as having enough staff, the right safety gear, and good management. Nursing staff can also have to deal with bad working conditions when they are with patients and residents.

In addition to the COVID-19 outbreak, nurses also have to deal with things like angry patients and unfair treatment of people. A lot of nurses have been hit or yelled at by patients or their family members, who have used bad language, threats, and violence. Unfortunately, abuse in health care is not a new thing. One study found that between 8% and 38% of healthcare workers around the world are violently harmed at some point. This makes a stressed job even worse.

More study shows that nurses depend on leadership and management to make the workplace a better place to work and keep things running smoothly. To deal with employee concerns and stop problems like job dissatisfaction, it’s important to have good leadership and support from managers and other administrative staff.

5. Shortages of Staff

Management has to deal with problems like nurses who have to deal with payroll mistakes, misunderstandings, staffing gaps, scheduling problems, or not being able to use their paid time off or sick leave. Most caregivers already have a lot of work to do and are stressed out, so bad management of important administrative jobs can be the last straw for some of them. A lot of healthcare places are still having trouble with staffing issues, which makes patients wait longer. In fact, studies show that a lack of staff is one of the biggest threats to patient safety.

If basic needs aren’t met, like having the right number of residents to nurses, it can be easier for nurses to make mistakes on paperwork, forget to fill out paperwork, or forget about patients’ needs because they have too many other things to do.

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As of March 2023, 28% of care homes are short-staffed in at least one way. On top of that, 96% of assisted living communities are having trouble finding staff, and 30% of these communities say the problem has gotten worse. The AHCA and NCAL study also found that all assisted living facilities are asking some of their nurse staff to work extra hours or extra shifts, and 28% are limiting the number of new patients and residents they can take in because they don’t have enough staff.

6. Lack of advancement opportunities

The medical field, once hailed for its stable career paths, is facing a concerning trend – a mass exodus of healthcare workers. While burnout and pandemic fatigue are undeniable factors, a deeper issue lurks beneath the surface: a lack of advancement opportunities.

Historically, the medical field offered a clear path for progression. Nurses could pursue specializations, doctors could climb the academic ladder, and all positions held the promise of professional growth. However, recent years have seen a flattening of these trajectories. Budgetary constraints often limit the creation of new senior positions, leaving experienced staff feeling stuck. Additionally, healthcare facilities, grappling with staffing shortages, prioritize filling vacant positions rather than promoting from within.

This lack of advancement stifles motivation and innovation. Ambitious nurses and technicians reach a plateau, unable to utilize their growing skillsets. Stagnant salaries, coupled with limited career growth, create a sense of professional dead-end, pushing talented individuals to seek opportunities elsewhere.

The consequences are dire. Experienced staff leaving creates a knowledge gap, impacting patient care. Retention becomes a challenge, as a revolving door of new hires takes time to reach peak efficiency. This cycle ultimately weakens the entire healthcare system.

Addressing this issue requires a multi-pronged approach. Healthcare institutions need to re-evaluate their career development programs, fostering internal mobility and creating leadership opportunities. Investing in mentorship programs can empower staff to grow within their roles, while exploring alternative leadership structures can create new pathways for advancement.

The medical field thrives on its dedicated workforce. By prioritizing career growth alongside competitive salaries, healthcare institutions can stem the tide of departures and ensure a future where talented individuals can continue to contribute their skills and passion.

7. Fear of being laid off

The medical field, once a haven of stability, now faces a chilling reality: the fear of layoffs. This pervasive anxiety is a significant factor driving the current exodus of healthcare staff, leaving patients and hospitals scrambling. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this fear and its impact on the healthcare system.

Burnout Breeds Insecurity: The pandemic stretched healthcare workers to their breaking points. Long hours, overwhelming workloads, and exposure to illness took a toll on their mental and physical well-being. This burnout left many feeling undervalued and questioning their career paths. Layoff rumors, fueled by financial strains on hospitals, exacerbate this sense of insecurity. Staff who dedicated years to caring for others now fear they could be easily replaced, further eroding their morale.

Seeking Stability Elsewhere: When faced with the threat of job loss, the allure of stability takes precedence. With reports of layoffs in certain specialties or hospitals, healthcare workers are actively seeking positions in sectors perceived as less vulnerable to economic fluctuations. This flight to safety leads to a shortage of qualified staff, creating a domino effect that strains the entire healthcare system.

The Vicious Cycle: The loss of experienced staff creates a heavier workload for those remaining, perpetuating the cycle of burnout. This further fuels anxieties around layoffs, pushing even more staff to seek alternative careers. The resulting strain on resources can lead to longer wait times, reduced quality of care, and ultimately, a breakdown of patient trust in the healthcare system.

Addressing this crisis requires a multi-pronged approach. Hospitals need to prioritize staff well-being, fostering a culture of support and open communication. Transparent communication regarding finances and potential layoffs can help alleviate anxiety. Additionally, investing in retention strategies like competitive pay and benefits can incentivize staff to stay. By prioritizing their workforce, healthcare institutions can turn the tide and ensure continued quality care for patients.

Ways to keep nurses from leaving

Having to replace employees is expensive in any business, but it’s been hard to find and keep good nurses in healthcare lately. The higher your retention rate, the better care you can give your people and the more work you can get done. But since more and more healthcare workers are finding reasons to quit, companies need to fight to give them more power over their careers, better benefits, and less work to do as managers.

These kinds of solutions can help make a difference right away by giving employees more freedom and keeping them from getting stressed out or burned out. For example, using nurse management software to keep an eye on your employees’ extra to make sure they’re not working too much will show them that you care about their health. It is easier to automate administrative jobs and make other processes better when you buy nurse management software like SmartLinx that solves multiple problems at once.

Quick Read: 8 Strategies For Managing Healthcare Workers Stress

Simplify scheduling

According to research, the best ways to keep nurses from getting burned out are to make sure there are enough staff and limit the number of hours worked per shift. There are several easy ways to stay in touch with your workers and let them know right away about any changes to their schedules, open shifts, new schedules, or approvals for time off requests.

Making it easy for employees to request time off and open shifts gives managers more choices for keeping nurses on duty. With all the work that needs to be done in assisted living and long-term care centers, managing shifts automatically can make paperwork easier and make it easier for nurses to stick to their schedules. It is possible to make SmartLinx software fit your specific needs and improve the way you run your business.

Everyday tasks can be hard to balance, but the most important thing is to make sure your residents and care staff are happy. By automating your current processes, it will be easy to find replacements for workers who are on leave or to let employees know about last-minute changes to their schedules through mobile access features that they can easily access. They can also switch shifts, take on more shifts, and change their own schedules with this option. This gives your employees a better sense of control over their jobs and makes it easy for them to change their hours right from their phones.

Also, letting your employees have more say over the plan can make things easier for you and your management team because you won’t have to make changes every time someone asks to change their hours. It only takes seconds for your staff to confirm or tell you about a shift, giving you more time to work on other things.

Make Administrative Tasks Automated

You can spend more time helping your staff and listening to their needs and concerns when you use software that can help you handle your employees better. For example, lets you give your workers more power and control over their personal data, which frees up time for management and staff. This lets your staff focus on the people. You can also see who is on duty and quickly keep track of their overtime to keep costs down and make smart choices.

For management tasks, a tool can help keep track of job postings, applications, and new employees, making the whole hiring process easier. The problems you might be having getting more staff to fix a shortage can be made easier by automation. You can even add pre-screening questions to the Applicant Tracker and post them right away on your website or social media. This makes it easier and faster to find suitable nurses.

Pay on the same day

Offering same-day pay and flexible/catered payments to help nurses with their unpredictable schedules is a great way to help your nursing staff feel less stressed about money. With nurse management software, you can give your staff these choices and let them get their pay much faster after their shift, instead of having to wait weeks. This might even make employees want to work more shifts or longer hours because they can get paid right away when they clock out at the end of the day.

Nurses can pay their bills and make ends meet with the help of same-day pay. Your employees will be better able to manage their money if they get paid early. This is especially true if they need to pay off a student loan or organize their bills before their next paycheck. Because many nurses don’t work a normal 40-hour workweek, getting paid the same day makes it easier for them to see if they won’t make enough money and look for more shifts as needed.

Final Thoughts

Lack of career advancement opportunities and professional development further compounds the dissatisfaction, while administrative burdens and understaffing create an unmanageable workload. The emotional toll of working in healthcare, dealing with life-and-death situations regularly, and the lack of appreciation from both healthcare staff and patients add to the reasons for quitting.

Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive approach: improved mental health support, better work-life balance, competitive compensation, opportunities for career growth, and a safer, more supportive work environment. By tackling these problems head-on, the healthcare industry can begin to stem the tide of resignations and build a more sustainable, motivated workforce.


Why are healthcare workers experiencing burnout at higher rates?

Healthcare workers are experiencing higher rates of burnout due to long hours, high-stress environments, and the emotional toll of patient care. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these conditions, leading to increased physical and mental exhaustion.

What can be done to improve work-life balance for healthcare professionals?

Improving work-life balance can be achieved by implementing flexible scheduling, reducing excessive overtime, providing adequate staffing levels, and offering support services such as mental health resources and wellness programs. Encouraging time off and ensuring manageable workloads are also crucial.

How can healthcare organizations enhance safety and support for their workers?

Enhancing safety and support involves providing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), ensuring safe working conditions, offering comprehensive training, and establishing protocols to handle emergencies effectively. Additionally, fostering a culture of appreciation and support through recognition programs and mental health initiatives can significantly improve worker morale.