Posted on May 15, 2023, 2 p.m.
For decades nurses really haven’t been getting the respect that they deserve. Not only do these diligent and hard-working people multitask to the extreme, juggling a number of responsibilities on a daily basis, but they also work exceedingly long hours and are tasked with administering medication as well as treatments while barely receiving so much as a thank-you from the majority of patients. In many areas around the globe medical facilities are overloaded and overwhelmed adding extra pressure on these dedicated people.
According to a recent nationally representative survey of 1,500 nursing professionals and students conducted by Cross Country Healthcare Inc. in collaboration with Florida Atlantic University, the majority of the nurses report that staffing shortages are contributing to their personal well-being struggles, 1 in 4 nurses are ready to quit, and a large portion of the respondents are fed up with their profession and plan to move on within the next 2 years.
Nurses are typically very passionate about how meaningful the work they do is to them, and most of them earn a good income, but only one-third of the respondents plan on remaining in their profession for the foreseeable future. In fact, roughly 1 in 4 reported that they will probably make a career change within the next year or two.
Over half of the respondents reported that there is insufficient staffing to meet the demands of patient needs, which is a development that they consider to be the worst part of being a nurse because when there are not enough colleagues to help out and pick up the slack as needed, the on-duty nursing staff become overworked and burnt out fairly quickly.
May is Nurse Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. In an attempt to help address some of the mental health challenges that nurses face, Cross Country Healthcare has created the Check Your Vitals Initiative project which asks nurses to monitor their own vitals, overall health, and well-being, while offering a variety of tips and strategies to help nurses maintain both mental and physical wellness.
“We had hoped that at this point past the pandemic, we would see improvement in the sentiment of our nurses, but that’s simply not the case,” says John A. Martins, president and CEO of Cross Country Healthcare. “The decision to choose nursing is more of a calling than a job. Nurses are tireless in their passion for quality patient care, no matter how challenging their working conditions may be. But the profession has reached a breaking point, and it is well past time that industry leaders come together to create reform to revitalize this essential profession.”
Nurses are living with a variety of negative symptoms on a daily basis, respondents reported struggling with anxiety (46%), insomnia (35%), and depression (32%), but 83% of the respondents reported that they do not attend any mental health or well being counseling despite most of their employers offering these services.
71% of the nurses reported staffing shortages as being the biggest contributor to their poor mental health, and 55% reported a lack of support resources as being a major contributor to poor mental health. Recent experiences over the past few years appear to have only added to feelings of discontent with 2 in 5 employed nurses reporting that it has dramatically increased their desire to leave the nursing profession.
1 in 5 employed nurses reported that they are unsure if they would take the same career path if they could go back in time. The overwhelming majority of nurse respondents believe that increased pay rates and incentives are important to attracting and maintaining nursing staff, which includes a more flexible schedule.
6 in 10 nursing school respondents report that the educational institution they are attending offers mental health and well-being resources, 47% report that they take advantage of these offerings, 53% say that they find these resources to be useful, and 93% of the nursing school respondents report that they are still happy with their decision to become a nurse.
The United States Health Resources & Services Administration is predicting a national shortage of 63,720 full-time registered nurses by the year 2030, as well as a projected shortage of 141,580 full-time licensed practical nurses by the year 2050.
“Despite the many challenges and stressors that have contributed to burnout and nurses being on the brink of a breaking point in their professional careers, nurses and nursing students remain overwhelming satisfied with their career choice,” explains Safiya George, Ph.D., Holli Rockwell Trubinsky Eminent Dean and Professor, FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. “Nurses have endured and thrived over the years. The profession as a whole will need a lot more investment of human capital as well as fiscal and other supportive resources moving forward. This national survey has helped to identify innovative ways to improve quality of work and life for current and the next generation of nurses.”
“Nurses are struggling and have been for years now. They are overworked and understaffed, and addressing their well-being challenges must be a critical priority for health care leaders,” concludes Hank Drummond, Ph.D., M.Div, B.A., RN, senior vice president, and chief clinical officer. “The patient experience is only as good as the caregiver experience, so we need to ensure our caregivers are well and cared for, both physically and emotionally.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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This national survey, titled, "The Future of Nursing: At the Breaking Point,” was conducted with nearly 1,500 nursing professionals and students at health care and hospital facilities. The online survey was conducted between Feb. 22 and April 14, in partnership with FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing.