Why do nurses quit the profession?
Nursing is the most trusted profession in America and has been considered so for decades. Yet, nurses are burning out at a rate unparalleled to any other profession.
It turns out that nurses may not be getting the same respect and care that they give to their patients and employers. As a result, many nurses are looking for alternative ways to practice nursing or are even leaving the nursing professional altogether.
I became a nurse as a second career. Nursing called to me because I genuinely wanted to help people, and I thought that a nurse’s schedule would work better for me as a mom. Now, seven years into my nursing career, my passion for nursing is still high.
Yet I, like many other nurses, struggle with burnout. I have even started looking outside of patient care for alternative ways that I can practicing nursing to deal with my struggle.
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
Reasons Why Nurses Quit
#1. Not having control over work schedules
Hospital nurses are expected to work all hours of the day and night, holidays, and weekends. And on top of that, many nurses don’t even have control of their schedules (unless they work per diem – which has been a game-changer for me). I can’t tell you how many times I have missed Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s parties, Easter Sunday, Fourth of July weekend, and so many other special events with my family.
Now that I have my own kids, missing these events is so much harder for me, especially if I have to work on one of their birthdays. This past Christmas, I was lucky enough to NOT work on Christmas Day, but I worked the entire two weekends before, the two days before Christmas, and the day after Christmas. I missed several Christmas parties, and I was so tired on Christmas day that I could barely keep my eyes open.
Thankfully I am not working graveyard shifts anymore, but if I did I would have quit being a nurse a long time ago. Working night shifts literally made me feel like I was going to explode. I felt sick all the time, I was in a constant fog, and I even started to get a little depressed.
Here is an idea that can help: Work per diem or switch to another nursing position that requires a more regular 9 to 5 work schedule such as occupational health or the Cath lab.
#2. Bullying in the workplace
You have probably heard the phrase “nurses eat their young.” That is just a clever way of saying that there are many experienced and burned out older nurses bullying less experienced nurses. It’s also a primary culprit as to why nurses quit working inpatient care.
I remember one of my own experiences with bullying very clearly. When I was a new nurse grad, a nurse I gave report to at shift change would question everything I had done for my patients that day, and drill me about why I didn’t do things differently. Her attitude was awful, and I could tell she hated her job and being on the unit. She had been there for many years, and she treated several other new nurses the same way.
There were days where my shift had gone great – until I had to deal with her at the very end. Then I left the hospital feeling defeated and inadequate just because of some unhappy, grumpy nurse. I did my best to hold my ground and keep my reports as simple as possible.
Eventually, (and thankfully) she quit and we never had to deal with her again. Things got better for me, but unfortunately, there are still nurses “eating their young” who are lurking within the hospital.
Here is an idea that may help: I took a course called “Crucial Conversations” during my second year as a nurse, and it was so helpful for me. It taught me how to deal with difficult situations with other co-workers. Sometimes addressing a bully head-on or finding a way to avoid them entirely is the best way to handle the situation.
#3. Abusive patients or family members
By and large, most patients and family members in the hospital treat the medical staff respectfully. However, that is not always the case.
In my seven years career as a nurse, I have been kicked, swung at (thankfully never hit head-on!), had a full urinal thrown at me, been cussed out, and told I should “kill myself.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are patients who, despite having full capability to execute all activities of daily living by themselves, take advantage of nurses and other medical staff by asking that everything is done for them. It’s as if we have nothing to do all day except be a personal butler. At least it can feel that way sometimes. I’d rather not be a character from Downton Abbey, though!
Often when people are in the hospital, it is because they are sick and need to be there. Nurses are happy to bend over backward to give the best patient care we can for those patients. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the caregivers, and over time, it leads to decreased morale and, ultimately, burnout. This is another big reason why nurses quit the profession.
Here is an idea that can help: Nurse abuse is never okay and can be traumatizing for nurses. Communicate with management any time a patient or family member is abusive. Ask for help. Call security if you feel threatened. Ask for another assignment or take turns with other nurses giving care to extremely difficult patients. Talk to staff, family, and friends to help talk out your experience. All of these things can help make dealing with difficult patients and their families a little easier.
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If you are considering leaving the nursing profession altogether, here are a few ideas to help rekindle your nursing career:
Are you a nurse struggling with burnout and considering leaving the nursing profession? What experiences lead you there. Please leave a comment!
Additional Recommending Reading:
(This post about time saving tips for nurse moms contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here. To contact us regarding collaboration click here).
To the mom who is a nurse: You’ve got amazing skills and you are beyond capable of running the world.
At work you are busy caring for patients, organizing plans of care, giving life-saving treatments, advocating for patients, all while continuing to make them feel safe and well-cared for. Now its time to apply your nurse time management skills at home. After all, nurses know more then anyone about how to prioritize the most important tasks first. Our patients lives often depend on it.
No one has the ability to multi-task the way a nurse does. Here are a few time saving tips and tools to help you apply those talents as a mom managing a household:
Simple Time Saving Tips For Nurse Moms:
1. Have your to-do list in your phone
I love planners because I think they are pretty. Problem is, when you have children you almost never get a chance to look at them. Which is why I have found it necessary to keep my to-do lists organized in my phone where I can easily see them.
Here are a few awesome apps to stay organized:
- Trello: This is my favorite!
- Google Tasks: simple tasks in Gmail and Google Calendar
- Google Keep: A bulletin board for your tasks
- Remember The Milk: very simple yet powerful task management
2. Make preparing lunches and family meals easy
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3. Listen to podcasts for perspective on nursing, motherhood, parenting and lifestyle tips
Podcasts are a great way to add a little adult conversation to your day. After the birth of my first baby I seriously missed reading books. So, I would take my daughter for long walks and listen to podcasts for hours. I was able to walk off my baby weight relatively fast and learn about ways to make my life easier in the process.
Here are a few of my favorite podcasts:
4. Make it super simple to tidy up your home
I remember people telling me just to “let things go” after I had a baby. Then I heard it even more after my second baby. I think this might be the worst advice I have ever gotten as a new mom. Who feels better when their lives and homes are a complete disaster? Not me.
I have found though the years that its easier to keep my home clean and organized when I don’t keep things that we are not using or providing a helpful service to us. Basically, if its not being used, then its got to go. Here are two books I read that inspired me to declutter our home and keep it that way:
5. Make family photo books in 20 minutes with Chatbooks
ChatBooks is a mobile app where you can pick photos from your social media accounts or mobile device and have them printed in a pretty book. Chatbooks are photo books for people who don’t have time to make photo books (ahem, nurse moms!) You can easily add, edit, and rearrange your favorite photos to create a beautiful photo book.
Before I had children I had the time to spend hours making photo books and ordering pictures. Now that I have children, I want to document everything they do and make hard copy books for our family and ourselves. Problem is, there just isn’t time anymore! Chatbooks has been the best and easiest solution for this problem.
Every few months I go through my phone and make a new book. I have books for both of my children first year of life, all of our family photoshoots, vacations, and other special events. Plus, it has made it so easy to make great birthday and holiday gifts for grandparents as well.
6. Get off social media
Limiting social media is simply one of the best time saving tips there is! There is nothing more time wasteful then scrolling through social media or constantly uploading photos.
Focus on whats most important to you. Besides, studies say that people who look at social media are likely to become more depressed. And if your are a busy working mom, you have got no time for that!
I try and focus on any of these productive tasks instead of mindlessly using social media:
- being a wife
- raising an amazing kid
- spending time with friends
- writing in this blog
- listening to music or a podcast
- practicing yoga
Recently, I was reading an article about an author named Tim Ferris who wrote a book called The 4-Hour Workweek. He talked a lot about how being perpetually busy just for the sake of business is actually a form of laziness. Ferris explained that on a superficial level, being busy is a satisfying substitute for doing important work. “It’s very easy to confuse activity with productivity,” says Ferris.
This got me thinking… Is my addiction to social media just me being lazy? Am I unconsciously browsing social media instead of living my life with intention? This realization inspired me to do an experiment and quit all forms of social media for one week. And guess what?… I survived! And I was motivated me to limit myself to checking my social media accounts 1-2 times a week from then on.
I have so much more time now to focus on things that actually serve me well.
I hope these time saving tips inspired you to be more productive and purposeful. Now, continue doing what you do best and continue running the world!
Additional Recommended Reading By Mother Nurse Love:
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
As a resource nurse who has worked in many specialties and units all over the hospital setting, I have discovered that I am an ER nurse at heart. Here are the reasons why I love being an ER nurse:
I love the camaraderie in the ER.
In between the traumas, code brains, septic patients, strokes, fast track, and other walk-in emergency room patients, ER nurses frequently communicate with each other. It’s all about teamwork. In the ER, nurses often have their own sections, but there are also many “resource” nurses on the floor to assist with additional patient care. When a patient arrives with a more serious condition, there are always nurses who come in to help.
When it gets stressful in the ER, the nurses depend on each other to get the work done. Many patients come into the ER in urgent situations where the cause of injury or disease isn’t yet known. Nurses have to work together to triage and effectively treat patients, oftentimes, without all the facts. Doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists, and other medical professionals cohesively work together to give fast life-saving medical treatment.
On med surg floor units, nurses are assigned to the same patients for an entire day without much, if any, overlap with other nurses. At times I have often felt lonely on med surg units because I miss the camaraderie of working together with other nurses.
I start several IVs and do all my own blood work in the ER.
Before I became an ER nurse, my IV start skills were mediocre at best. Now, my IV skills are so much better, and I can get intravenous access in some of the most challenging veins. This is a result of having frequent opportunities to start IVs during each ER shift.
The very best IV nurses are the ones who are constantly challenged by patients who are difficult IV sticks. To gain valuable IV start skills, you want to put yourself in a position to have as many opportunities to learn as possible. The ER is a perfect place for that.
It makes sense that ER nurses are great at starting IVs. In emergencies, ER nurses need to be able to gain access fast for testing, various medications, pain and nausea relief, IV hydration and antibiotic therapy, among other things. Many of the nurses I work with have been in the ER for a decade, or longer and their IV skills are unbelievable. Several nurses are even trained to do ultrasound-guided IV starts on patients with hard-to-stick veins.
I love caring for a varied patient population.
Every day is an adventure. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it’s never boring in the ER. I have had patients ranging in age from 2 days to over 100 years old. Patients come to the ER with every type of illness, injury, and trauma you can think of. Our patient loads include, but is not limited to: various types of trauma patients, septic patients, elderly patients, organ transplanted patients, patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases, psych patients, small children and babies, and so much more. There is rarely a dull moment and always something new to learn.
I love the organized chaos in the ER.
It is never boring or tedious in the ER, or at least not for long! The emergency room is a fine-tuned machine with each nurse component working semi-gracefully around one another. From the outside, it might look like craziness, but the madness always has a method.
I often struggle with the tediousness of tasks when working on a med surg unit. It is often jam-packed, but very task-based. The to-do lists can get a little ridiculous.
I love the intellectual stimulation I get in the ER.
I am a closet science geek. And I love the cerebral stimulation that I get as an emergency room nurse. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries, and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed.
It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things every day at work. To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.
I maintain my sense of humor in the ER.
Sometimes things just get so odd that I can’t help but laugh. There are days when I see people come into the ER saying that they are dying, but end up having a diagnosis of constipation. Once I had a college student come in for a temperature of 99 degrees. I’m like, seriously? How do you even get through the day?
The emergency room is also a very emotional place. Patients never want to be there and usually don’t understand, for example, why they have to wait in the hallway an hour or even much longer until their test results are completed, or the medical team decides on a plan for them. They get upset and tired of waiting. Sadly, sometimes they take out their frustrations on the people working the hardest to get them the medical treatment they need: the nurses.
I have had so many “I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried” experiences in the emergency room to last me a lifetime. But that’s one of the reasons I love being an ER nurse versus other parts of the hospital. It can get weird, but I’m always learning. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to keep learning.
What specialty do you love? If you could change and do one thing, what would it be?
Additional Recommended Reading:
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.
Starting a blog can be overwhelming, especially when you already work full time, are a parent to small children and have a to-do list that never seems to end. To make matters worse there is almost too much information on the internet about how to start a blog.
Where do I start? Who should I trust? How do I prevent myself from becoming overwhelmed with information?
And most importantly, how do I even find the time to start a blog when my schedule is already crazy busy?
The thing about blogging is that it is a marathon, NOT a sprint. It is also not a get rich fast (or maybe ever) scheme. It is a TON of work. So, if you are not considering it as a long term project then quite frankly I would strongly consider whether you want to start a blog in the first place.
But you are still reading this so I’m going to assume you really do want to start a blog . And I’m so glad. Because I love blogging and I love talking about blogging even more!
Here are a 5 important things to consider BEFORE starting a blog:
1. Find your niche
For me, this one was easy. I am very passionate about two things: nursing and motherhood. (And, well, my husband & other loved ones too, but for the sake of having a blog, you need to find YOUR specific niche that you can passionately write about).
Someone once told me this: “Before you start a blog you must find your niche. Then, take your niche and niche it down even more.” In essence, you need to get really super specific.
For example, if I just called myself a “nurse blogger” that doesn’t say very much about who I am or what my niche is about (except, of course, that I am one of 2.2 million other nurses in the US). It also doesn’t tell you anything about how I might be able to add any value to a reader. It’s just too vague.
Instead I am a “nurse mom lifestyle blogger who helps other nurses take better care of themselves with an emphasis on self-care.” I like to think of myself as a nurse advocate. That sounds a little better, doesn’t it?
It seems counter-intuitive that niche-ing down helps bloggers perform better but it really does. It increases your engagement with a very specific group and you have the opportunity to be an expert in a small area. You just can’t be everything to everyone, and you can’t be an expert at everything.
2. What will your name be?
Many bloggers want their name to reflect their niche. I’ll use myself as an example again: my blog name is Mother Nurse Love and my niche is nurse moms and self love. Pretty self explanatory.
But it doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to. Your name can be anything you want it to be (although it might be a little more interesting if you are able to have a little story behind it!).
It is, however, important to put a lot of consideration into your name for the following reasons:
- Your blog name is going to be with you for a long time. You will be known for it.
- It is difficult (but not impossible) to change it later on down the line.
- Bloggers generally use their blog names for their social media handles as well. Again, this just makes it harder for you to re-brand in the future (so start with the right name!)
Just make sure your name is not offensive or is sending a message that does not reflect you well.
(In the book The Nurses Guide To Blogging, co-author Kati Klieber, talks about how when she first started out her blogging name was Nurse Eye Roll. While many RN’s can relate to Nurse Eye Roll as a funny title, when she started getting more popular in the blogging world she became concerned that her blog name was sending the wrong message to brands and followers. She ultimately had to do a complete re-brand and changed her name to FreshRN. She is now more popular than ever the nurse blogging community, but I’m sure it was a huge pain in the butt at the time.)
A word of advice: I strongly suggest that you figure out what your blog name will be BEFORE setting up a WordPress blog with Bluehost.
3. What is your end goal with your blog?
Do you want a hobby blog? Or are you trying to start a side hustle/business? You don’t have to make this decision right away, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially if you are planning on growing an email list and monetizing your blog at some point.
First things first though. You need to starting writing blog posts. A lot of them. And they need to be good.
By now you have probably heard the phrase “content is king.” Well, frankly, it is. And if your end goal is to have a growing, thriving blog, then your writing and your voice need to be honed in nicely.
After you have a functioning website up and running then it might be a good time to start expanding your reach.
If your end goal is lots of website traffic you need to start with Pinterest AND focus on Search Engine Optimization
Pinterest will get you page views faster – but great SEO will rank you higher in Google searches and is great for the long haul. Right now I focus on both to grow my website traffic.
You may not know this, but Pinterest is NOT a social media platform. Its a visual search engine. It has changed tremendously over the last year and continues to have algorithm updates almost weekly (or so it seems!) Mastering Pinterest takes a lot of work and if you want more traffic sooner then you need to invest in a course.
Here is a great resource for you understand and better utilize Pinterest: a blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands. I did the course when I was on maternity leave and have been able to increase my page views from 0 to 500-1000/day within a few months. Seriously, read some of her reviews.
Know this- if your goal IS to monetize your blog you will need to invest in a few courses to help move you forward. Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.)
4. How much time will you be able to dedicate?
Most adults have a full time job and/or kids that they need to manage before they can put work time into blogging. So as much as we intend to dive right into writing 7 posts a week, for many of us that is just not realistic.
I am a mother of 2 very small children, a nurse working 12 hour shifts, a wife and a homemaker. So, like most other working women bloggers, I’m super freaking busy 99% of the time. However, through practicing hyper-vigilant time management and forgoing a little shut eye at night I am managing to squeeze 5-10 hours into my blog every week. And I am still able to produce some decent and valuable content on a fairly consistent basis.
Eventually, my children with be in school and at that time I will be able to dedicate more time to content creation and website management. But for now I am still making an impact and earning a little money every day.
Try making a tentative blogging schedule for yourself and stick to it. Like I mentioned before, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes time to grow. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or trying to sell you something.
5. Are you OK with being vulnerable?
When I first started blogging it took me a week to write my first posts. The reason it took me so long was that I kept going back and censoring my post from its original content. Mostly I was afraid of offending someone. I kept thinking “what if they leave a negative comment on my site?
It took me a few months to stop being so hard on myself. After all, this is my blog, I own it, and therefore I am allowed to talk about whatever I want. If someone has something negative to say, so what? Besides, aren’t I trying to start a dialog for nurse moms?
(A blogging collage once shared some encouraging words: she said “you’ll know when your really doing well with your blog when you get a nasty comment on your site. That’s when the trolls start to find you.” Wise words.)
Vulnerability can be powerful for a new blogger. Once you decide that you are going to be authentic with your writing you actually gain momentum with your messaging. You allow your writing to be more creative and natural. It’s an inspired feeling and your readers will appreciate getting to know you better.
(A few final thoughts to mention before hitting publish: Are you hurting anyone or belittling a person or community? Words are powerful so use them to create positivity and to help find solutions to problems. Create value. Spread the love.)
Here are a few more posts you may be interested in reading!
Recommended blogging courses and resources for new bloggers:
You need to know by now – if your goal IS to monetize your blog you must invest in a few courses to help move you forward. Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.
- Nurse Blogging 101: Healthcare Media Academy – If you are a nurse or other healthcare blogger, I highly recommend starting with this one. Creators Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber are both published, award-winning authors who are also considered the Godmothers in nurse blogging. They are especially great because they go into more detail about patient privacy concerns and other considerations that healthcare bloggers need to be aware of.
- Pinterest Ninja: If you want to understand how Pinterest can grow blog traffic you need this Pinterest Ninja Course. A blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands. I did the course when I was on maternity leave and I was able to increase my blog traffic exponentially in just over one month. Seriously, read some of her reviews. Her course is invaluable.
In case you missed it, last week I was interviewed by the amazing Nurse Coach Jessica Smith and we talked about bouncing back from burnout.
Well, guess what? I got ANOTHER chance to talk with Jessica this week about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: nurses nurturing nurses! (I had so much fun the first time, what can I say?!)
Our ‘Nurses Nurturing Nurses‘YouTube interview can be found HERE!
During the interview, we discussed:
- Strategies you can use to attain a work-life balance with a busy nursing schedule;
- How you can design your life around how you want to feel;
- How doing simple things each day can make a BIG impact on your overall health and well-being;
I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – leave a comment!
Again, the link to listen in can be found here!
Additional Recommended Reading:
7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout
Nurse Burnout: How Administration Can Help
How To Achieve A Work-Life Balance As A Nurse
Nurse Health: Self- Care For 12 Hours Shifts