From One Nurse to Another: Why Nurses Are Leaving the Bedside

By Morgan Curry RN, BSN

Unless you have been completely sheltered from the world over the last two years, it is evident that healthcare workers have taken a beating—specifically nurses.

You are also likely aware that nursing burnout is a national healthcare crisis; more nurses are leaving the bedside than ever before. 

But, why is this happening? What can be done? How do we prevent further mass exodus? 

Are you a nurse that has experienced or is currently experiencing burnout, lack of job satisfaction, or thoughts of not only leaving your job, but leaving the profession entirely? 

If so, do not feel guilty. You are not alone; this is the current trend. I was in the same shoes as you not very long ago. 

Nurses have dedicated their lives to the service of others, only to be mistreated, under-respected, overworked, and forgotten. Thousands of nurses are either leaving the profession or beginning to question if they were cut out for this career after all.

So, from one nurse, to another, let’s take a look at the logistics as to why the nursing shortage is continuing to ravage 

Why Nurses are Leaving the Profession 

One of the main contributing factors as to why nurses are leaving the profession is due to their heavy workload. The Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses highlights that the workload placed upon nurses is heavier than ever before and the consequences are detrimental. 

The heavy workload, high staffing ratios, interdisciplinary conflict, and lack of support are factors that continue to contribute to the crisis of nursing burnout. Over 50% of nurses are clinically burnt out, and the RN turnover rate in the United States currently stands at 18.7%. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What is even more astounding is the fact that one in three nurses will leave their positions as a direct result of burnout. 

Depression rates for nurses are at an all-time high with a rate of 15-30%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 10%. 

Can we blame these nurses for wanting out? Many nurses are coming to realize quality over quantity. They would rather have decreased stress, depression, and anxiety than the money that hospital institutions will give them for “hazard pay.” 

Money will only take you so far. 

Who will be there to take care of patients when the nurse is having a panic attack and decides to quit her job? 

Nursing has always been a stressful occupation. Nurses are faced with difficult decisions and carry the responsibility of human lives in their hands. The recent pandemic has only heightened the stress of the profession. 

With increased fatigue, pressure, and severity of patient illnesses, nurses within high-stress environments are more prone to making errors, leaving patients to suffer the consequences. 

These statistics seem overwhelming, and no wonder nurses are leaving at unprecedented rates.

Oh, and the Nursing Shortage- To Make Matters Worse 

Healthcare administrators have been warning the nursing profession and other members of the healthcare systems for decades about the national nursing shortage. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the issue stems from a projected shortage of RNs. 

The Baby Boomer population is aging, and the need for health care is continuing to grow. What is only compounding the problem is that nursing schools are having a hard time expanding their capacity. 

With nursing burnout and the ever-growing nursing shortage, why would nurses want to remain in the profession? 

What Can Be Done?

Workplace satisfaction is huge. I have left several jobs because the work culture was toxic and I was undervalued, underpaid, and underappreciated. I still loved nursing, but it wasn’t worth it for me. 

I am not alone in this feeling. Many nurses are experiencing the same things I was. Their quality of life is more important than the feeling of dread going into a job that they once loved. 

Nursing executives and administrators must address the issues related to decreased job satisfaction and address the causes leading to nursing burnout before we have no one left to care for our own family and friends. 

Nursing managers must evaluate their leadership teams, staff, and processes in place to ensure that the working environment is a positive, pleasant, and safe place for nurses to work. 

If hospital institutions remain complacent with unresolved conflict or managerial issues within their practice, turnover and exodus will continue to occur, the nursing shortage will grow, and the snowball effect will become larger. 

Create a culture that supports, empowers, and informs nursing staff to provide safe, efficient, and quality care to patients. 

  • Increase and encourage effective communication. Nurses want to feel heard. 
  • Show appreciation. Everyone wants to feel appreciated; it doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger paycheck, but rather, small acts of kindness and respect. 
  • If you are a nurse considering leaving the profession, think long and hard about your decision. Consider your options. Reflect on the good and the bad times within your career. 

Try to remember why you became a nurse. Was it to help others? To save lives? To make an impact or follow the legacy of a loved one? 

Think about your passion. You should always have passion for what you are doing; it gives life meaning.

Once you have considered these things, maybe it still means leaving your position, but the possibilities and opportunities in nursing are endless. 

If your current nursing role is too stressful or the night shift at the bedside is continuously bogging you down, don’t throw in the towel on your entire career; try switching your role. 

It may look a little different, but who knows? It could be the perfect fit for you.

Author Bio

Morgan serves as the Course Curriculum Executive Editor and Content Manager at Her extensive background in a Level I Trauma Hospital setting provides vast clinical insight into high octane clinical care, along with a deep understanding of specialized areas of nursing such as heart and lung transplants, ECMO, and cardiac surgery recovery.             

Morgan’s professional versatility also extends into the highly sought-after field of aesthetic nursing, with comprehensive experience in the Plastic Surgery field; including nurse leadership in PACU, PERI-OP, and OR departments. 

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How can healthcare practices minimize their water footprint?

By Mia Barnes

Healthcare facilities require water, just like any other home or business. It’s crucial for their day-to-day practices. These facilities operate on a 24/7 basis, with people coming in and out at all times for work or healthcare needs. According to the Energy Star portfolio manager, healthcare practices are the third-largest water consumers of buildings throughout the United States. 

As more people are becoming concerned about the environmental future of the world, places like hospitals and other health buildings are under increasing pressure to conserve their natural resources, especially water. Hospitals are often exempt from using water in areas that experience drought or have high water prices, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make efforts to conserve water. 

With water scarcity on everyone’s minds, how can healthcare practices minimize their water footprint, though? Fortunately, there are a few ways that hospitals and other healthcare facilities can cut down on water usage and increase water efficiency. 

Modify HVAC Systems

Medical buildings can make a significant impact on their water conservation just by modifying heating and cooling systems. Some systems are open-looped, and others are close-looped. Open-looped systems or “once-through” systems use water and then drain it immediately, which wastes a lot of water. 

On the other hand, closed-looped systems recirculate the water, getting many uses out of hundreds of gallons of water every day. This alone can save millions of gallons of water every year. 

Implement Low-Flow Valves in Toilets and Showers

Another excellent way for healthcare facilities to conserve water is by installing low-flow valves on toilets and showerheads. In hospitals, many people use these every day. You can keep the same toilets and showers if you choose to install the low-flow devices. 

Low flush valves can reduce water consumption to 1.6 gallons of water per flush compared to older toilets, which could use nearly five gallons with each flush. Hospitals could also implement waterless urinals to save on water consumption. Additionally, they can use low-flow valves on showerheads to limit water usage. 

Improve Laundry and Dishwashing Systems

Most hospitals have laundry and dishwashing services. They need to do laundry each time a patient leaves a hospital bed to keep everything sanitary. Also, they must run a dishwasher for the plates, silverware and other dining utensils people use when admitted to the hospital.

Although these are necessary sanitation practices, they also use water. Healthcare facilities can minimize their water footprint by installing rinse water reuse systems. The water used in the rinse cycles for laundry and dishes isn’t very dirty and can be reused for other things like landscaping or toilet systems. Hospitals can also save water by washing full loads only and eliminate any additional rinse cycles.

Rethink Healthcare Landscaping

Many healthcare practices want to look attractive on the outside. It offers a pleasant atmosphere in perhaps not always pleasant situations. It also provides a curb appeal and well-kept front landscaping that can attract potential employees, visitors, and patients. However, landscaping may be a factor leading to water scarcity.

Healthcare facilities can make their landscape more sustainable. Planting native plants will reduce water consumption because they’re hardier and can withstand periods of drought. Additionally, facilities can reduce lawn space by adding more concrete or rock, which doesn’t need to be watered. For plants that do need water, they can use greywater leftover from dishwashing and laundering services. 

Remind Staff and Visitors to Conserve Water

Finally, those in charge of healthcare practices can frequently remind staff and patients or visitors about the importance of conserving water. If people don’t begin taking individual responsibility to conserve this precious resource, then by 2030, there will be a 40% more demand for water than will be available worldwide. 

Set up information pamphlets and hang posters around the facility reminding people how they can help conserve water. Perhaps there are signs in the bathrooms that ask people to turn off the water when not in use. This should not discourage people from washing their hands. Hand hygiene can help prevent the 1 in 31 infections spread daily by healthcare providers. The fewer infections spread, the fewer times patients and providers have to wash hands on a given day, conserving water. 

Take Hold of Water Conservation Opportunities

Reducing water consumption can help save the environment, increase water security and even help hospitals and other healthcare practices save money. Minimizing water footprints is one of the best things a healthcare facility can do!

Mia Barnes is a health journalist and Editor in Chief at Body + Mind.

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5 Things Nurses Wish They Had More Time For

By Kara Reynolds

Nursing is an under-appreciated profession. Nurses go into the field to help other people, to be their guiding light when patients can’t see past the darkness, but the stress they shoulder by themselves is unimaginable. Juggling multiple patients, all in different degrees of health, at once, is not an easy task, and it can lead to nurses feeling burnt out and not having enough time for everything they want to do.

Nurses don’t get the chance to prioritize activities many other people do. Since they work such long shifts, nurses hardly have any time for themselves before it’s time to go back to work. The three days a week they work are intense, and often they’ll end up using their days off to cover a co-worker’s shift.

When you constantly feel like you’re running out of time, how do you prioritize what you need to accomplish?

What All Nurses Should Spend More Time Doing

Nurses miss out on plenty of things — some being fun events, others being regular everyday tasks. Unfortunately, though everyone loves downtime, nurses must sacrifice what little free time they have to make room for other obligations.

Though it might take a bit of extra work, doing things you love coupled with things you must do can help you stay on track despite an exhausting day at the hospital.

1. Eating Regular Meals

When you have a whirlwind of tasks pummeling you from every side, eating regular meals can seem every bit a chore. When you just don’t have time, patients take priority over eating. While understandable, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your well-being just because you’re loaded with responsibilities.

Finding a nutritious meal is even more difficult because it takes more than a stop at the drive-through. A great idea would be to pack a lunch the night before work and include nutritious foods that keep you fuller longer, just in case you don’t get the chance to eat the whole meal before you’re pulled back to work. If you don’t regularly get breaks to eat, consider loading up on a breakfast that packs a nutritional punch.

Choosing to eat fruits and vegetables over refined carbohydrates will make for a healthier breakfast overall. If you can only eat one meal during your workdays, you should at least opt for one that will sustain you and last you throughout the day.

2. Exercising Regularly

As a nurse, you should know that exercising regularly has its benefits. In addition to decreasing or maintaining your weight and BMI, exercise can improve your mood when done as a daily activity.

The problem lies in the fact that, on days you work, it can be challenging to fit in time for yourself and invest in keeping your own body healthy. You might find it frustrating that you take care of patients but can’t find the time to do the bare minimum for yourself.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution. Focus on the quality of your workout instead of the quantity. The internet is home to hundreds of free high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout videos that challenge your body to move in a way that a full-length workout would.

The best part? Most of these videos are only around 10 minutes long, meaning you can squeeze them in at almost any time in your day. As long as you’re diligent and creative, you can make time for a workout.

3. Taking Care of Hygiene

When nurses run around completing multiple tasks, they often find themselves too busy to attend to the more unnoticeable hygiene practices, such as brushing their teeth after a meal.

Activities like cleaning up after eating, or moisturizing, may often fall by the wayside. It’s essential to keep your teeth healthy, especially when you drink things like coffee, which can stain your teeth if you aren’t brushing it away before it has the chance to set in.

The solution to pesky coffee stains would be to find another caffeine source that won’t stain your teeth or stop drinking caffeine altogether. Because it seems unrealistic to tell a nurse to stop drinking coffee, waking up a little earlier in the morning to give your teeth the proper care is the ideal solution. Think of how much time and money you’ll save by not having to visit the dentist too often for cavities and other issues!

4. Spending Time With Family

Because nurses’ shifts are so long — up to 12 hours or more in a single day! — they may find it difficult to spend time with their families. If your working hours have put a strain on your familial relationships, you might find yourself scheduling family time days in advance for just a few hours. It’s a double-edged sword because you want to help people, but you also want to be around for all of your family’s celebrations and pitfalls without feeling tired and burnt out from work.

Instead of dwelling on what little time you have, make the most of the time you do have with your family. Unfortunately, there’s not much wiggle room around shifts unless you cut back on working. You have to go where you’re needed, and as a nurse, you’re doing one of the most selfless and stressful jobs of all.

If you can, have someone else in your family explain to your children about the work you’re doing. You may even sit down with your partner or children yourself and explain what you do. They’ll probably see you as a hero after they realize just how much stress you undergo every day.

5. Themselves

Being a nurse leads to a lot of stress. You try your best to care for patients, but sometimes that’s not enough. Patients you love get well and you miss them, but other patients never get well. It’s not something you feel prepared for, whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time. All of the stress can weigh upon you and drag you down into sickness and more.

Choose one of your days off to make entirely about yourself. Pamper yourself with a massage or manicure, or just stay home and treat yourself to a lovely dessert or bubble bath. You deserve time for yourself that will allow you to rest and recuperate from the week of work and all the stress and emotions that come with it. Think of it as a reset for your mind. It’s okay to take time for yourself and to heal. You need it.

Take Time for the Things That Matter to You

Unsurprisingly, 75% of Americans are stressed out. They feel some of the symptoms of stress, and while it might feel good to have things to do sometimes, it’s too much for a person to handle constantly. Nurses are admirable because of just how much they have to shoulder every day, but it gets to the point where they cannot properly look after themselves for half the week or more.

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution for increasing free time, especially when you’re working upwards of 12 hours a day. Luckily, though, you have family and friends to help you with mundane tasks like chores when you feel you just can’t continue anymore. Through all the stress, you’re not alone. You’ve got this.

Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief of Momish, an inclusive parenting website. She is passionate about health and wellness and loves sharing knowledge with others. 

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