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One-third of nurses plan to quit their jobs in 2022, thanks to high stress and burnout

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   March 18, 2022

Nearly 32% plan to retire or leave the field altogether, while 40% plan to pursue a nursing role elsewhere.

More than one-third (34%) of nurses surveyed said they likely will quit their job by the end of 2022, primarily because of burnout and a high-stress working environment, a new study says.

Not all are leaving nursing; 40% plan to pursue a nursing role elsewhere. But nearly 32% of nurses plan to either retire or the field altogether, according to Nursing in the Time of COVID-19, an annual report by staffing agency Incredible Health, which surveyed 2,500 nurses.

Among the study's findings:

  • 44% cite burnout and a high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave.
  • 65% said they've been verbally or physically assaulted by a patient or patient's family within the last year. Anger regarding hospital/COVID guidelines (52%) and frustration around staffing/care (47%) were the contributing factors leading to this aggression, the survey said.
  • 32% said they've experienced racism at work.

High Turnover

Compensation is a crucial issue for nurses, but it is just one contributing factor leading to high turnover.

Nearly half (42%) of survey respondents have started a new nursing role since January 2021. The main reason nurses moved to new roles was higher pay, as 58% reported pay as their motivating factor to find a new job, while 44% plan to change jobs because of burnout and a high-stress environment.


Other primary reasons nurses changed jobs included:

  • Searching for a different role (33%)
  • An improved schedule (31%)
  • Their preferred location (25%)
  • Career advancement or training opportunities (24%)
  • Better staffing overall (24%)

Travel nurses

An ongoing frustration for the nursing industry remains travel nurses. More than 75% of nurses surveyed reported seeing an increase in travel nurses in their unit during the past year and one-third of those polled indicated that increase made them dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied.

Pay is at the heart of the issue, with 86% of nurses reporting that compensation differences were the main cause of their dissatisfaction with travel nurses, who are often highly paid by temporary staffing agencies to solve critical gaps.

Additionally, 47% of nurses believe the quality of patient care is compromised from such temporary staffing, and 33% note that unit culture changes with the addition of travel nurses.

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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