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Why the majority of nurses feel guilty about taking a break

The top reason why nurses plan to leave their careers is nursing shortages.

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A new survey of 1,000 American nurses found that nine in 10 believe the quality of patient care often suffers due to nursing shortages (90%).

The majority added that they feel guilty about taking a break because they think they must always be on call (55%). Almost six in 10 nurses have even noticed their patients have suffered because they have too much on their plate (56%).

Additionally, half of the nurses polled admit they have considered leaving the nursing profession (50%).

According to the survey conducted by OnePoll and connectRN, the top reason why nurses plan to leave their careers is the nursing shortages (61%), followed by having a better work/life balance (58%), they feel their mental health is at risk because of burnout (56%) and a lack of appreciation (51%).

In fact, six in 10 blamed staff shortages as to why they feel they don’t have control over their careers (60%). That may also be why 58% of nurses don’t think their employers are doing enough to address the nursing shortages.

Some respondents advised ex-nurses who left the profession to come back by saying, “COVID has been tough on the industry, but it’s starting to get better,” “Helping people is a blessing” and “I would say as hard as things may seem from time to time, it pays off in the end.”

“Nurses need new ways to work in order for there to be a solution to the critical labor shortage we are experiencing,” said Ted Jeanloz, CEO of connectRN. “By giving nurses flexibility, we can pull them back into the profession and ensure that neither patients nor nurses suffer, alleviating some of the pressure they’ve been experiencing lately.”

The survey also asked nurses what they thought were the biggest frustrations with the nursing industry. Nurses said there’s not enough staff (65%), low wages (39%) and a lack of respect for the work they do (34%).

They stated that their profession offers them a lack of flexibility with their schedule (21%), not enough time for friends and family (21%) and not enough opportunities for career advancement (12%).

The data suggests that time off could help nurses’ work performance. Nurses said they need an average of four vacation days per month to feel fully recharged at work. If they could create their dream work schedule, 65% said they would like to have a four-day weekend, have time to eat a full lunch (46%), have a more flexible shift (39%) and have more breaks (28%).  

The research further showed that many nurses claim they’ve observed and experienced discrimination based on race, sex, or age (24% and 21%). And a fifth claim they’ve witnessed harassment or mistreatment at the workplace based on identity (18%).

One-third (32%) further noted they don’t feel supported by their employer.

Almost one in five nurses even shared that they have a side job outside of nursing (17%) because they want to bring in more money for their families (69%), pay off their debt (42%) and balance the stress of being a nurse (28%).

Overall, the changes nurses want to see in their profession to help them feel empowered is to have better communication with upper management (57%), opportunities to negotiate salaries (57%), better equipment/medical gear (38%) and chances of promotion (35%).

“Many nurses entered the profession because it was a calling and is a job that they love,” added Jeanloz. “If they feel burnt out and taken advantage of by the system when they show up to work, they will lose sight of why they became nurses in the first place. We owe it to them to offer the flexibility that so many other workers enjoy, so they can be the best nurses they can be.”

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