Many nurses wouldn’t recommend the profession, survey says

A majority of nurses say they are putting the job before their health, according to the survey by IntelyCare. Nurses who have shifted to per diem roles said they are happy with the move.

Many nurses are increasingly unhappy with their jobs, and some say it’s no longer a career they recommend, according to a new survey.

The survey was released by IntelyCare, a Massachusetts firm which offers software connecting nurses to health providers.

Many nurses have said they have worked to the point of exhaustion during the COVID-19 pandemic and don’t feel supported by hospitals. One study found 40% of all nurses have said they plan to leave the profession in the next two years. One in three registered nurses said they are considering leaving positions providing direct patient care, McKinsey & Company found. Healthcare leaders across the country say they are wrestling with a shortage of nurses.

The IntelyCare survey offers more indications of nurses who are dissatisfied with their careers. It also suggests nurses who have taken per-diem roles and joined the gig economy are happier.

While nearly 75% of nurses said they entered the profession to help others, more than half said they would advise their children against pursuing a career in nursing.

Rebecca Love, chief clinical officer of IntelyCare, called that “the most troubling statistic” in the report. In an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive, Love said many nurses were inspired to enter the profession by family members. She said the idea that many nurses would discourage their children from entering the field is “jarring.”

“I think that is a generational change,” Love said.

More than half of nurses surveyed (56%) cited their heavy workload as the reason they left a job. Over the last two years, nurses’ working hours have increased by up to 15%.

Roughly 3 out of 5 full-time nurses (61%) have said they put their work before their physical and mental health. This follows other recent reports of nurses saying the job is taking a toll on their mental health. It also comes amid reports that many nurses - and healthcare professionals - are reluctant to seek counseling.

At the same time, some nurses continue picking up extra hours and are reluctant to take time off because they know how hard their fellow nurses are working, Love said. Some are also worried about not being there for their patients.

“You feel as though you’re letting your colleagues down,” Love said. “You’re picking up overtime and working more because you are short staffed. You recognize it's hurting you, it’s hurting your family.”

The report also said those nurses who have moved into a tech-enabled per diem roles have generally found more satisfaction, with 43% of those joining the gig economy feeling successful.

In addition, 60% of per diem nurses surveyed said they had more energy after a work week, while 49% of full-time nurses said the same.

“Nurses do want to be able to practice,” Love said. “They want to be able to care. When you give them this option of when and where, they will work and are much happier doing it.”

Still, some nurses said they were reluctant to take the leap and wanted to stay in their full-time jobs. Nearly half (45%) pointed to being leery of the unknowns of working in a new organization, while 29% of those surveyed said they planned to stick around due to their relationships with patients and staff.

Many nurses opt for per diem work after having children. It’s time for health systems to develop more flexible scheduling systems and more part-time positions with benefits to retain good nurses, Love said.

Hospital leaders contend that the high rates charged by nurse staffing agencies, or travel nurses, are playing a key role in the financial struggles of health systems. Some healthcare leaders have asked regulators to investigate staffing agencies to determine if there is price-gouging.

Love said finger-pointing obscures the real issues driving nurses away from the profession. She said one out of three bedside nurses aren’t considering leaving for jobs as travel nurses.

“They’re leaving a system that has been failing them,” Love said.

Hospitals, healthcare organizations, the public sector and tech industry need to come up with remedies to allow for better scheduling of nurses.

“We need to start collaborating as an industry to save the nursing workforce,” Love said.