- Burnout from working through the pandemic continues driving nurses to quit their jobs, and more than a third of nurses recently surveyed by staffing firm Incredible Health said they plan to leave their current jobs by the end of this year, according to a report out Wednesday.
- Nurses cited burnout and high-stress work environments as the No. 1 reason for leaving their jobs, followed by pay and benefits.
- Among those leaving or planning to leave, higher salaries are the top motivating factor for taking other positions. Nurses are also leaving for other jobs with greater flexibility and opportunities for career advancement, according to the survey.
Hospitals are currently battling some of the worst staffing shortages they've faced since the pandemic began as burned out healthcare workers continue leaving their roles. Many are quitting to take higher-paying traveling nurse positions or opting for early retirements, as systems attempt to wrangle in heightened labor expenses.
Burnout is a key factor causing nurses to quit, followed by pay, though in general salaries haven't risen substantially, according to Incredible Health's report, which is based on data collected through its platform along with a survey it conducted of more than 2,500 nurses in February.
Instead of boosting salaries to recruit and retain staff, systems have opted for sign-on bonuses. The number of offers including such bonuses rose 162% over the past year, according to data from Incredible Health's platform.
In Texas, 58% of offers included sign-on bonuses in 2021 compared to 16% in 2020, and bonuses nearly doubled in value from $5,800 to $10,700. But salaries in the state overall decreased 5% over the past year, according to the report.
Meanwhile, California has the highest nurse salaries, which are about 20% above the national average.
Sign-on bonuses have been effective in enticing nurses to relocate for new positions. Interview rejections due to location decreased 28% over the past year, according to the report.
As the healthcare workforce continues undergoing some major transitions two years into the pandemic, issues with traveling nurse staff continue serving as a key pain point. They're commanding much higher rates than permanent staff, spurring some to leave for those roles elsewhere and causing more problems for those who stay.
Among nurses surveyed, 77% said they've seen an increase in travel nurses in their unit over the past year, and 33% said that's caused an increase in dissatisfaction among permanent staff, the report found.
Compensation differences were the leading cause of dissatisfaction, and the culture of a unit changes amid influxes of temporary staff, nurses reported.
At the same time, nurses said patient frustrations, racism and discrimination and assaults are on the rise, partially due to ongoing COVID-19 guidelines. Some 65% of nurses said they had been verbally or physically attacked by a patient or patient's family member in the past year, the survey found.
While 52% attributed that to pandemic restrictions, 47% said it's a result of longer wait times and other issues caused by a lack of staffing.
Current staffing shortages are so troublesome that they're the top patient safety concern for 2022, according to another report out Monday from healthcare safety organization Emergency Care Research Institute.
ECRI Researchers said shortages are actively jeopardizing patient safety, with many patients waiting longer for care, even in life-threatening emergencies.