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5 Reasons Nurses Want to Leave Your Hospital

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, August 9, 2011

4. Bullying and toxic behavior

Bored of hearing about this topic? So am I. So are nurses. Nothing makes nurses want to walk out the door more than toxic colleagues—whether physicians, nurses, or anyone else—who are allowed to behave badly.

It's not enough to have a zero-tolerance policy. Enforce it. Preach it. Talk about the importance of respectful behavior. Explain expectations, not just at orientation but at multiple times through the year. Send information via emails, hold continuing education classes, and have the topic as a standing item on meeting agendas.

Give managers the tools to confront problem employees and back them up when they do. Have a plan in place to educate offenders. If the behavior continues after that, fire them. Support managers through this work. Nurses would rather work a nurse short than keep a disruptive employee who sabotages the morale and cohesiveness of the others.

5. Bad managers

You've heard it before: People don't leave companies, they leave managers. Yet hospitals still don't pay enough attention to leadership skills for nurse managers. Bad nurse managers who don't know how to lead are retention nightmares. Skilled managers are retention magnets.

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25 comments on "5 Reasons Nurses Want to Leave Your Hospital"


door1967 (10/25/2013 at 2:42 PM)
17 years nursing and met some fantastic nurses and patients. For me the job just is not what I came into, however I believe that is the case for many. I can accept long hours and late of shift, but not the toxic culture. I feel I am top of my game at time management and still have no time to actually spend time with a patient. I see all these ward statements which are no more than paper. If you cannot sit with a dying patient or just chat then what is nursing really worth. A few nurses, doctors have commented commented I am very good at my job. Their definition of good did not include comfort, caring, having a little fun, sharing your day. I have decided to become a HCA and give up my pin. Maybe I want to be carer and not a nurse as the role has changed from what I loved. It was never a perfect job and there has always been bullies and stress, but somehow being allowed to give something of yourself made it ok. Truth is I don't get anything from nursing and find so toxic which I am sad to say. I think when I heard one nurse call another for chatting to a patient who was upset stating they should be working. I don't blame anyone, as it is what it is. I do believe in my opinion something so fundamental has been lost.

Elaine Kinsey (11/18/2011 at 3:01 PM)
My comment is to those who do not make the grade. All RNs have had minimum scores for exams and those that do not pass are out of the program, period. A 73 score or even a 80% informs me that only 73%- 80% of the time you knew what to do for a patient. This is unacceptable in school and is unacceptable to me as a Director of an ICU. My advice, is to go through the program again and not give up so easily.

Deb Watson (9/5/2011 at 2:15 PM)
When will they ever learn enough is enough! I can remember when volunteers left the hospitals b/c nurses were loosing jobs back in the mid 70's. Then the medical assistants (who are trained both in clinical and administrative) got shifted b/c the nurses were hired at doctors' offices for less pay and higher education. Over the years, medical assistants haven't been recognized for doing all of what nurses do in the doctors' offices nor utilized in the hospitals as part of the on going education of our medical field. In fact, to higher my education and ultimately be of greater service, I attended a 2 yr. nursing school w/i the hospital. With 2 semesters to graduation and $22,000 in debt, I was CUT from the accredited RN Associate program. How could this happen? I was given 2 weeks notice to retake the final from the previous year that I had passed with the manditory 80% and above. Not only was this in addition to each semester's manditory practicals and nursing calculations but put in a noisy hallway to take it. Out of the 80%, I scored 73, was immediately CUT and lost my only income of 16 hours from a student nurse job. Although totally numb from having been put out of being at the hospital 7 days a week for school, clinicals and work, I called and wrote to the deans that only acknowledged missing the cut off by 7 points. I did, however, receive a congradulations for the bill paid in full!! It saddens and angers me to see the continued numbers of opening for nurses when there's such a lack of mentorship to begin with right under their noses.