In a newly released article titled, “Top 10 Concerns of Chief Nursing Officers,” a majority of CNOs who attended a recent roundtable discussion were worried about nurse retention and staffing. Because facilities have been forced to minimize staffing and put additional demands on nurses, nurse stress and burnout are at an all-time high. CNOs are now challenged with finding and keeping quality nurses on staff and are openly acknowledging the valuable role they play in patient care.
Reduced reimbursements and increased drug prices have put unprecedented constraints on the budgets of many health systems. As a result, nurse staffing levels have been decreased and nurses have been tasked with doing more with less.
However, hospitals are not only becoming aware of the decline in working conditions—and how they can affect both nurses and patients—but are beginning to take action to improve them such as:
- Implementing technologies to reduce manual tasks and enable more time with patients
- Prioritizing self-care, including providing meditation or “renewal” rooms and allowing time for naps or brief walks
- Shortening shifts and bringing in traveling nurses to increase staffing levels
Due to the degree of stress and increased workload, many nurses are leaving hospitals to go to private practices or outpatient clinics, where they are more likely to find a regular 9am-5pm work schedule. Although this may seem an attractive option, as the staffing shortages at hospitals worsen, the perks of staying put are improving.
Benefits to Staying Put
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that over 500,000 more nurses will be needed by 2022 due to patient growth and baby boomer nurses reaching retirement age. Nurses entering the field will be primarily graduate students who are inexperienced and may be seen as putting patient safety at risk. As such, facilities will be looking to those with seniority to serve in leadership positions and help guide and train the over 4 million millennials expected to enter the field between now and 2030.
In addition, facilities are seeing a relatively high degree of turnover at the leadership level and, according to some CNOs, will be looking to institute succession planning. Seasoned, long-term employees could be in a great position to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Other benefits experienced nurses are already encountering include shorter shifts, higher wages, and flexible hours.
At the end of the day, each nurse needs to do what is right for him/her. However, it’s important to note that things are changing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With better technology being implemented and hospital leadership taking action to improve the working environment, doing your research will serve you well prior to making any career altering decisions.