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Nurses on What Keeps Them from Leaving the Healthcare Industry


There’s been a lot of talk recently about turnover in the nursing field. Statistics show 32% of registered nurses (RNs) in the United States are considering leaving their current direct-patient-care role, which would have a devastating effect on the industry amid the existing staff shortage. Many nurses complain of unsafe working conditions, physical and mental burnout, and poor work-life balance, but millions continue to do their jobs every day out of love or obligation. So, what keeps nurses from quitting? Here’s what they said:

I love being a nurse. Those who don’t should find another profession because once you become bitter and have a hatred for nursing, you are unable to provide the patient with loving, compassionate and empathetic care! Period. I’ve seen this a million times in the ER among coworkers. I’m like you know what? They didn’t ask to be sick. They didn’t ask for pain, surgery, whatever they’re in here for. Do your darndest to help. There are going to be jerks, lots of them but you vowed to care for people. If you can’t do that, bow out and find something else.


It’s the amount of vacation time. Hours. I’ve worked 32 years for the same healthcare system. I don’t want to start a new career at my age and lose all my benefits.


I worked hard for my skill set. What else can I do that will earn the same or better as travel nursing?


Nursing is a passion for me… sometimes it is the workplace you need to leave, not nursing itself.


Flexible schedule, decent wage, my fantastic coworkers, and the plain fact that I feel needed.


I came from the banking sector and into nursing as a mature student. I have had an awful job, in awful places, with limited employment rights and rubbish pay, plus the threat of redundancy looming all the time and no promotion prospects.

Nursing for me is autonomous, freedom to think and make a difference every day. You meet amazing people who remember you were there for them. Yes, it has challenges which are catastrophic in some areas – I do get the burnout, but nothing would send me back to banking.


What else could I do at 50 years old? Nursing is all I know. I’m the breadwinner.

Saddened to see that I’m not the only one who feels this way.


Mortgage, bills… the fact I’m fat and can’t dance so being a stripper is out of the question.


I don’t hate being a nurse. I hate the way that we are treated by management and administration. This is why, after 18 years of floor nursing, I am 2 semesters from becoming a Psych NP. I am physically tired of being unappreciated and working so hard while supervisors see us drowning and refuse to help us.


After 25 years in the profession, I left it last year. It was a hard decision but being able to give quality care is not what it used to be and suddenly we seemed to be the enemy. I was becoming physically sick over the stress.


It’s not that I hate nursing. I actually love nursing, that’s what keeps me there. I hate the healthcare system that puts profits above people. I hate employers who report record profits while working their staff to death. I hate that our CNAs are so woefully under-compensated. I hate the lack of protections we have against abuse from patients and their family members. I hate that we could be charged with a CRIME for making a mistake accelerated by our employers’ failure to provide safe working conditions for us. That’s what I hate.


I’ve been a nurse for 42 years. Disabled the last 8. I wanted to be a nurse since I was 6 because my great grandmother was a nurse. To me it was a calling. A mission. I made a difference.


Practically, I’m so close to retirement, I need to maximize my superannuation. Emotionally, I like my job and the people I care for and work with. Physically, not sure how much longer I can last. Mentally, every ward shift is stressful – ratios and staffing, higher acuity of patients. Running out of energy.


I’ve been a nurse for 16 years, CNA LPN CPhT to RN. It’s all I know as well.

But sometimes I would love to work at “Walmart.” No responsibility or sleepless nights.


At the end of the day, I get the most satisfaction knowing I’ve helped someone with their pain, illness and/or anxiety using the skills and knowledge I’ve gained being a Registered Nurse for 25 years. It’s the grateful, kind patients that make up for the difficult ones.


Too much time and education invested. Too old to start over.


Like someone else has mentioned, I’ve invested too much time and education into it. I honestly don’t know what else I would do. But I feel burnt out.


What else can I do that pays this well and gives me 4 days off a week and no weekends or holidays?


My kids want to eat 3 meals a day…. every freakin day😞.


What I do makes a difference to someone, every day. That is what keeps me going back.


Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences online. 

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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