30% of Nurses Want to Quit Profession Entirely, New Survey Finds

Published: May 4, 2023

Nearly a third of nurses in the United States say they are likely to leave the profession due to increased stress caused by the pandemic.

The 2023 AMN Healthcare survey, taken by over 18,000 nurses from Jan. 5 to Jan. 18, found 30% of participants are looking to quit nursing altogether — up 7% from 2021 when resignations began to increase during the height of the pandemic. It also found 18% are likely to retire from nursing due to the pandemic and 36% plan to continue working in the sector but may change workplaces.

Leading up to the pandemic, AMN Healthcare has consistently warned that the “combination of growing nurse shortages due to increasing retirements of Baby Boomer nurses, a dearth in education and training for their replacements, and the rising utilization of healthcare services by a rapidly aging population would eventually lead to a workforce-related healthcare crisis.”

Compounding the existing problem, AMN Chief Clinical Officer Cole Edmonson said the pandemic caused a sudden spike in patient demand, overwhelmed many hospitals, and caused great harm to the well-being and mental health of many nurses.

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“We called it a ‘perform storm’ of approaching causes and circumstances,” he wrote in the findings.

The survey also revealed a sudden decline in nurses’ personal and professional views toward nursing since the last survey in 2021, according to Fierce Healthcare. After remaining between 80-85% for over a decade, career satisfaction among nurses dropped to 71%. Satisfaction with the quality of care they provided also dropped by 12%, and only 33% said they have ideal time to spend with patients — down from 10%.

Overall, the survey found younger nurses are significantly less satisfied with their careers and jobs. They are also less likely to recommend a nursing career (Baby Boomer: 62%, Gen X: 51%, Millennials: 43%, Gen Z: 42%).

Additional findings include:

  • Nurses who say they often feel emotionally drained is up 15%
  • 80% say they experience a great deal or a lot of stress at work — up 16%
  • Nurses who worry that their job is affecting their health is up 19%
  • Nurses likely to encourage others to become a nurse dropped by 14%
  • 35% never address their own mental health and well-being issues
  • 89% agree the nursing storage is worse than five years ago — a 37% increase from 2019
  • 94% agree there is a severe or moderate shortage of nurses in their area, with half of the nurses saying the shortage is severe

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress Among Nurses

The survey also asked respondents about the most effective ways to reduce stress for nurses. The top five strategies nurses said would be very or extremely effective include:

  1. Increasing support staff (90%)
  2. Reducing patients per nurse (89%)
  3. Increasing salaries (87%)
  4. Creating a safer working environment (86%)
  5. More nurse input into decision-making (86%)

AMN says efforts to help reduce nurses’ stress and provide support through mental health and well-being services can result in better career satisfaction and job retention.

The group also recommends government regulatory changes and legislation that invests in the healthcare workforce. The proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2024 includes a $32 million investment in nursing education to increase the number of nurse faculty and preceptors, according to Fierce Healthcare. The budget also includes $28 million for a new program to address workforce shortages and $25 million for a new program to support workplace wellness in hospitals, rural health clinics, and community health centers.

The company further recommends large-scale efforts to advance the adoption of technology that supplements the healthcare workforce. In addition to improving safety, technology can remove time-consuming tasks and free up nurses to spend more time on patient care.

“From our current workforce crisis, we need to develop a unified, collaborative effort, led by nurses ourselves and supported by our allies in multiple sectors of society, to reduce stress and moral injury for nurses through systemic, professional, and personal changes,” wrote Edmonson. “Uplifting nurses needs to become a national call to action.”

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Strategy & Planning Series