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Half of Nurses Plan Career Change, Says Survey

Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media, February 9, 2010

AMN Healthcare recently conducted its 2010 Survey of Registered Nurses to address the issues of job satisfaction levels and if the recession is affecting nursing career plans. The survey was sent to registered nurses via e-mail and 1,399 nurses completed the survey.

The survey found that almost half (44%) of all nurses plan to make a career change over the next three years, and that more than one-third of the respondents experience job dissatisfaction. Almost 50% of the respondents were nurses between the ages of 40-49, and 59% of the nurses currently hold a position on their hospital's permanent staff.

AMN Healthcare's survey also found:

  • 15% of nurses plan to seek a new place of employment should the economy improve a year from now.

  • 28% of nurses agree with the statement, "I will not be working in this job a year from now."

  • 46% of nurses agree with the statement “I worry this job is affecting my health.”

  • 29% of nurses plan to take steps in the next one to three years that would take them out of nursing altogether (by retiring or seeking non-nursing jobs) or reduce the volume of clinical work they do (by switching to part-time or less demanding roles).

  • 8% of nurses returned to the nursing workforce over the last two years, 3% for economic reasons.

  • Only 6% of nurses are very confident that healthcare reform will provide a mechanism for ensuring an adequate supply of nurses

  • The majority of nurses (55%) believe that the quality of care that nurses provide today has declined compared to when they started in nursing.

  • More than one-third of nurses (36%) said they either would not recommend nursing as a career to young people or were not sure that they would.

Another topic the survey asked nurses to comment on was the nursing shortage and comparing it to five years ago. Thirty-three percent of nurses said the shortage has gotten worse, despite an economic downturn that has sent many RNs back to nursing from other areas of work.

An additional 28% said they have seen no change to the nursing shortage over the last five years, while a minority of nurses surveyed (39%) said the nursing shortage is not as bad as it was five years ago. The survey suggests that most nurses believe the heavy patient loads and demanding work assignments characteristic of nursing shortages have not changed.

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