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AMN Survey Says 40 Percent of Nurses Seeking Career Change

February 8th, 2010  |  The Blog

A survey conducted by AMN Health Care indicates deep career dissatisfaction among nurses, particularly RNs. The figures are pretty startling, and as AMN points out, the survey was conducted in a deep recession.

This survey comes from an agency that has a direct interest in this information. AMN is an industry staffing service, so it’s not good news for anybody in the sector.

This information should be a wake up call for the health care industry. AMN surveyed 1399 people. Looking at career intentions is a good survey methodology, because it reflects directly on the baseline position of the people surveyed.

The results are startling, and even allowing for sample deviations, the numbers should send a chill to health care staffing professionals:

Almost nobody believes the nursing shortage will be addressed by health care reforms.

29 percent of nurses are considering options that will either reduce their role or take them out of nursing. That’s a gigantic number of people. If 29 percent of nurses reduced their hours by one shift a week, that’s 729,453 shifts less per week, according to Bureau of Labor stats for total numbers of US registered nurses employed in December 2008, which was 2,618,700. That’s 39.49 million shifts per year. That would cripple the entire sector.

AMN makes the point that these views are influenced by current jobs, but in career terms only 59 percent would still choose nursing as a career. Not a good advertisement for the profession, and a clear indicator of how strong discontent is within the sector.

Six percent of nurses intend to retire in the coming year. That’s a very large number of people, well over the average attrition rate (AMN says this means 70,000 nurses, but it looks like they mean California only. Against the U.S. total, it could be 157,000, based on BLS figures). Current intake of new nurses would have a very hard time trying to keep up with that rate of loss, let alone cover the anticipated shortage of 26o,000 nurses expected by 2025.

As a benchmark, the survey raises some serious questions thatl need to be answered very soon. This isn’t the sort of problem that shows up as a glitch on stats and goes away. If these numbers are even half right, the sector is about to be hit by a 10 on the Richter scale of problems. There’s simply nothing there in the domestic employment market to absorb these losses. Even massive intake of foreign nurses would be playing catch up with the shortages.

Questions like these:

  1. What’s being done about staff retention?
  2. What’s required to enhance career satisfaction for nurses?
  3. Where are the nurses and their training facilities going to come from to replace staff losses and meet demand?
  4. Are there any realistic proposals or theories for covering lost hours or job loss for the 29 percent who are looking to change their roles?

AMN has done the sector’s work for it. The barely credible conceptual broomstick holding up the dilapidated old health sector shack can take only so much. This situation needs a holistic sector wide approach, covering all aspects of demand, or the whole mess falls over.

Paul Wallis
About Paul Wallis

22 Responses to “AMN Survey Says 40 Percent of Nurses Seeking Career Change”

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  • Super LPN said on February 9th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    This does not surprise me in the least. I’ve never worked in a hospital, being an LPN (they won’t hire me). But I’ve worked in about 7 nursing homes, and for one private agency. Nurses are treated horribly. In my former career, I was treated like Gold, as long as I did my job, but the economy and the glut of competition did away with that.
    I think nurses need to unionize, now. I believe that is the only way, short of a crisis, that management people are going to pay attention to us. I’ve tried and tried to get into a Dr. office or clinic, but had no success. I’d rather be dead than go back to nursing homes.
    I finally got on with Hospice, and they treat us pretty well. My 2 supervisors are RNs, and they are very nice to me. I still hear a lot of bitching from other nurses, though, almost all RNs, older nurses. I think they’re burned out, and need to retire, but their lifestyle has exceeded their ability to retire. Lots of big cars and fancy houses! I live in a cheap dump and drive a car I bought 9 years ago, within my means, but doubt if I’ll ever be able to retire. Maybe these are reasons why moral is so low, plus all the backstabbing that goes on… at least I don’t see it in Hospice, maybe because we’re non-profit, not corporate medicine.
    Feeling like you’re not appreciated is hell, pure hell. Been there, done that. Done.

  • Practical Nursing Program said on February 10th, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Thanks for Post ! Nursing is in demand because of shortage of nurses in this time this is wake up call for management / administration.

  • Meredith said on February 10th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I am a professional who has been working within the mental health industry for the last 10 years, and have recently decided to return to school to become a nurse. I am most interested in direct care not management, and unlike most who go into the field, money is not the largest draw. I have a master’s already and plan to attend an accelerated BSN program, but am also considering an option that would allow me to become a NP in 3 years. I understand there is more money in the higher level jobs, and more jobs available as well, I am however, most interested in the direct care relationships not administrative duties though, so I am unsure how to proceed. That being said, I am seriously disappointed to hear of all the displeasure associated with nursing as a career. I am curious if the interviews were across the professional spectrum (including LPNs, RNs, NPs, CNSs, etc) or just RNs? I am not surprised (especially coming from the mental health field—NO ONE is happy there), I am just curious what I can do to try and avoid this displeasure personally? Are there areas that people would suggest to pursue more than others? I very much live within my means, and am not interested in working over 40 hours a week as living with everything in moderation is very important to me, so I need time with my family. So with all of this being said, does anyone have any suggestions on how to best remain happy while going into/working within this field? Any and all information is appreciated. Thank you.

  • Ann said on February 10th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    When, oh when, do we stop looking at the ‘nursing shortage’ as if it’s a new monster in our closet and start realizing that it’s the lack of autonomy to steer our own ship that is the real problem? Nurses have ‘accepted’ hospital nursing as the hallmark of nursing. Yet lower costs, better outcomes and higher patient-nurse ratios are found in in-home hospitalization.
    So what’s the problem? Let women (yup, we are still mostly women) determine their own practice. Now isn’t that a scary thought?

  • Paul Wallis said on February 10th, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Meredith

    Working in the employment field, my suggestion would be that you use personal contacts in the industry to sound out working conditions wherever you see a job, so you don’t find yourself in a dysfunctional working culture. There’s always somebody around who knows the score, and can tell you about any problems in a workplace, particularly locally, where word gets around a lot more.

    You can also check out online to see what issues are associated with specific workplaces. Funding issues can mean a tense environment at management level, and any strange administrative situations usually mean there’s some sort of staff issues. State of maintenance or patients is also an indicator. Your instincts should react to anything out of whack.

  • Paul Wallis said on February 10th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Ann

    Good points, all. It’s hopelessly outdated business models, lack of administrative talent and dismal, insular corporate cultures which are keeping health care concepts in the 1950s. There’s no indication that the hospital system is even trying to improve cost efficiencies for its own sake. Nor is there much sign of attempts to cut ridiculously overpriced overheads. Real costs will reform the system, even if nothing else does. The realities of health care are driving people into forms of care as you suggest, and my guess would be that patients and their families start voting with their wallets for the modern approach. Nurses will gravitate to the more modern environments and better working conditions in these types of care, too.

    The hospital culture is still the default system, though. My impression is that the public doesn’t yet know much about these better care options, and it will take some marketing to get the alternatives into the spotlight, to enforce changes to the system.

  • Cheryl said on February 15th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    The corporate structure is truly at fault for the nursing shortage. My hospital tries to enhance our stature by giving us avenues to relay our displeasure, however, I’ve learned what I truly feel and what the corporation wants are extremely disconnected. Also, I feel that doctors are at fault. Doctors learn from their associates. I practice in a teaching hospital. Residents mimic their attendings. The older doctors still follow the rationale that nurses are their inferiors; the younger doctors at time mimic their attending doctors by reacting the same way. It escapes reason that doctors can throw temper tantrums and yell at nurses, yet we are expected to be the consummate professionals and react as such. I do this, never defending, but explaining myself fully in a calm, definite manner. In reality, I want to yell right back at them demanding when they will regard us as team players and realize that we are dealing with a common goal: the welfare of the patient in question. Raise the doctors awareness, keep the nurses from being the ones on the receiving end of all fault, administrative as well as medical, and raise the respect quotient for nurses from the medical and administrative point of view, and you’ll go a long way towards retaining nurses. Nurse-patient ratios are going up everywhere. This raises stress levels for nurses and increases the possibility of a sentinel event. Administration demands that nurses accede to the higher ratio, but is very accusatory if an event of some kind happens as a result. I definitely carry my own malpractice insurance. I have no faith the hospital will back me in the instance of an adverse event of some kind. They will distance themselves quickly on the advice of corporate attorneys and justify the staffing ratio in some way. Nurses consistently have to protect themselves and cover their backs. I am an expert in documentation. At times I feel I’m writing a novel. So, higher patient ratios, disrespect, being found at fault much of the time, higher demands from administration, and more time spent on documentation–when do we get to attend to the patient? This is not what I expected from the nursing field when I attended college. I have found a niche that I believe will sustain me for the rest of my nursing career. I have been a nurse for over 30 years. I just hope I am able to maintain my health, my attitude, my back and my sanity until the end of my career. I just wish it was earlier.

  • Paul Wallis said on February 15th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Cheryl

    From the look of that, you should be writing a novel. With any luck it’d be made into a movie or TV series and the industry would pay attention.

    I wish I could say the movers and shakers in health care got their information some other way, but as you can see from one of our previous articles, “Nurses should have more say in health care” (link on right hand column)that’s obviously not the case.

  • Terri Polick said on February 17th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    It’s true. Health care is all about the money. Sadly, patients and nurses are paying the price.

  • Super LPN said on February 21st, 2010 at 2:46 am

    These are some great comments. I can see that there are some nurses here that are much smarter and more educated than I.
    Over half the patients I see are in their homes, and I can tell you without hesitation that the families and patients are much happier there.
    Corporate medicine will keep things messed up until we obtain a national health program that models the one in the European countries. This is not an un-patriotic thing to say at all, but they are much more civilized than we are, generally speaking.
    Also, we need to get religion out of politics, and put morality back into medicine.
    It’s high time we organize, and use our clout like policemen and firemen do. Now, just how do we go about that?

  • […] you are a nurse who is thinking about a career change, you’re not alone.  There’s a recent ANM Health Care survey that says over 40% of nurses are seeking a career change.  Job satisfaction for nurses is low, for a lot of reasons:  the hours, the pay, and a lack of […]

  • […] you are a nurse who is thinking about a career change, you’re not alone.  There’s a recent ANM Health Care survey that says over 40% of nurses are seeking a career change.  Job satisfaction for nurses is low, for a lot of reasons:  the hours, the pay, and a lack of […]

  • […] you are a nurse who is thinking about a career change, you’re not alone.  There’s a recent ANM Health Care survey that says over 40% of nurses are seeking a career change.  Job satisfaction for nurses is low, for a lot of reasons:  the hours, the pay, and a lack of […]

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  • […] you are a nurse who is thinking about a career change, you’re not alone.  There’s a recent ANM Health Care survey that says over 40% of nurses are seeking a career change.  Job satisfaction for nurses is low, for a lot of reasons:  the hours, the pay, and a lack of […]

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  • […] you are a nurse who is thinking about a career change, you’re not alone.  There’s a recent ANM Health Care survey that says over 40% of nurses are seeking a career change.  Job satisfaction for nurses is low, for a lot of reasons:  the hours, the pay, and a lack of […]

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