Burnout, Poor Staffing Substantially Contribute to Nurses Leaving Health Care

Authors say leading reasons nurses leave health care signal opportunities for employers to reattract an existing nurse workforce
Burnout, Poor Staffing Substantially Contribute to Nurses Leaving Health Care
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

THURSDAY, April 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Nurses primarily end health care employment due to systemic features of their employer, according to a study published online April 9 in JAMA Network Open.

K. Jane Muir, Ph.D., R.N., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the top contributing factors to registered nurses ending health care employment between 2018 and 2021 in New York and Illinois. The analysis included survey responses from 7,887 nurses who recently ended health care employment after a mean of 30.8 years.

The researchers found that planned retirement was the leading factor (39 percent), but nurses also cited burnout or emotional exhaustion (26 percent), insufficient staffing (21 percent), and family obligations (18 percent) as other top contributing factors. A similar pattern was seen among retired nurses, of which 41 percent ended health care employment for reasons other than planned retirement, including burnout or emotional exhaustion (22 percent) and insufficient staffing (18 percent). For nurses not employed in health care, the age distribution was similar to that of nurses currently employed in health care, suggesting that a demographically similar, already existing supply of nurses could be attracted back into health care employment.

"Reducing and preventing burnout, improving nurse staffing levels, and supporting nurses’ work-life balance (e.g., child care needs, weekday schedules, and shorter shift lengths) are within the scope of employers and may improve nurse retention," the authors write.

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