Top 5 Reasons Why Nurses Are Leaving Your Hospital

The nursing shortage is real, and healthcare facilities are finding ways to cope. Some hospitals recognize the shortage and what needs to be done to compete-and win nurses’ loyalty. Unfortunately, many hospitals, and medical facilities, are taking a haphazard approach when it comes to retaining those qualified in patient care. If nurses are leaving your hospital you need to look at your practices and find ways to make the work[place more nurse friendly.  

As more and more focus is placed on the bottom line, medical centers, both large and small, try to get as much from their employees as possible. Mandatory overtime, spreading the staff “too thin” through short-staffing, and tasking RN’s with menial jobs on their never-ending to-do list makes for disgruntled staff. If you take the time to review your workplace practices, it may become clear just why nurses are leaving your hospital regularly.

The Common Reasons Nurses are Leaving

If you’re concerned because nurses are leaving your hospital you need to take a good look at your practices, and work environment, when it comes to your nursing staff. Even if there are countless incentives from other facilities competing for your staff, no one leaves a job they have come to love, co workers they enjoy, and a manager who respects them. Here is a look at 5 possible reasons nurses are leaving their jobs behind to pursue other employers.

Mandatory Overtime 

 There aren’t many nurses who “only” work a 12 hour shift. Most shifts are 13 hours, maybe even a little more, when you factor in the patient updates necessary for a proper handoff, making sure paperwork is up to date, and those typical end-of-shift call bells that always seem to happen. But, if your facility regularly requires mandatory overtime in order to make sure there’s appropriate, and safe, patient coverage, you need to stop.

Although most nurses don’t mind pitching in here or there, when a colleague is sick, or on vacation, no one likes to be forced to pick up the slack due to poor planning on the part of the facility. Look into using a staffing agency so when the need arises, you can cover your stuff shortages, while keeping your employees from the stress of mandatory overtime.

Non-Nursing Tasks

Nurses are leaving for many different reasons, but a huge cause is forced non-nursing duties. If you expect your nurses to take time away from patient care in order to stock supplies, or clean a patient room, you should reconsider this practice. You would never ask administrators to perform tasks such as these. Consider he cost of support staff, and compare it against the man-hours spent recruiting and onboarding.

Toxic Work Environment

A toxic environment can lead to staff turnover. If your nurses are leaving, particularly from on specific area of your facility, get to the bottom of it. Of course you have a zero tolerance policy for bullying, and infighting. That may not be enough. Schedule meetings so nurses feel comfortable airing grievances regarding co workers. Educate managers on how to deal with toxic behaviors from staff. Present a united front and fire the offenders, or, if that’s not in your power, go to their supervisors. This will show your nurses you have their back.

Floating Nurses to Cover Shortages in Other Units

As a practice, floating your nurses to where they’re needed most isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if it happens more often than not you may have found a reason your nurses are leaving. Nurses are not completely interchangeable. It takes time to develop certain skills required beyond basic practices. Pediatric care is entirely different than ICU, and briefly orienting the floating nurse isn’t always going to give them the instruction they need, nor the confidence. If you have consistent shortages in certain units, or a sudden influx in the census, consider utilizing the services of a staffing agency.

Not Giving Recognition When Earned

Nurses always go above and beyond what’s expected of them. It’s a part of what made them choose this vocation in the first place. If a nurse has been especially caring, or gone way beyond their expected duties, if a patient, or patient’s family, has given accolades to a specific nurse, recognize that nurse. Not only will you earn the respect and loyalty of that one nurse, but other nurses will also strive for recognition. Find ways to reward your nurses. Such a simple act can go a long way toward stopping the exodus if nurses are leaving your hospital.

Help Stem the Flow

Although it may be difficult to retain your staff when faced with the perks and bonuses offered by other hospitals and facilities, you can focus on making your workplace an environment a positive one. Camaraderie, mutual respect, and an understanding, by management, of what your nurses deal with in an average shift will help stem the flow. Take a look within to fully gauge why nurses are leaving your hospital, and you can end the revolving door.


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