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Expansive Survey Reveals Possible Sea Change in American Nursing

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

As the U.S. population ages over the next decade, even more pressure will be placed on nurses, plenty of whom feel so stressed about their work now that they are considering leaving the profession. The results of a recently released survey conducted by AMN Healthcare show the next decade could be quite challenging for the nursing profession.

Of course, an aging population means a greater demand on healthcare services, but it also means more workers retiring. According to this survey of more than 20,000 registered nurses, 86% of those surveyed who are baby boomers say they plan to retire in the next five years.

But it may not be only boomer nurses leaving the profession. Overall, AMN Healthcare notes that more than 270,000 U.S. nurses hold two full-time jobs. One in five of those surveyed say working more than one job negatively affects their quality of work, and nearly two in five surveyed say this arrangement negatively affects their quality of life. Further, 66% of those surveyed worry their job is affecting their health, and 44% say they often feel like quitting.

While nurses will spend the next decade trying to find a better work-life balance, they, along with the rest of the healthcare industry, will have to overcome obstacles that come with the movement toward value-based medicine and other structural changes. All this while potentially dodging patients and co-workers: 41% of those surveyed say they are victims of bullying, incivility, or other forms of workplace violence.

"From everything we know, this next decade will be extremely challenging for the nursing profession and healthcare in general, with serious workforce issues facing healthcare organizations at a time when many nurses are already experiencing tremendous pressure," Cole Edmonson, chief clinical officer at AMN Healthcare, said in a statement.

But it is not all gloom and doom. Eighty-one percent of survey respondents say they are satisfied with their career choice, and 65% say they are satisfied with their current jobs. Additionally, 43% of those surveyed say their organizations perform extremely well or very well when it comes to supporting professional development. On top of tips to help improve work-life balance, AMN Healthcare included with the survey results ideas to provide greater support for diversity in the workplace, enhance professional development, and put more emphasis on safety, engagement, and effective leadership.

For more on nursing mental health and workplace violence, check out these two articles from the October issue of Hospital Employee Health.

In Episode 4 of the “Rounds with Relias” podcast series, a nurse reflects on all these challenges, including tips for leaders looking to create an environment that entices nurses to stay in the field and with their organization.

The upcoming January issue of Medical Ethics Advisor will include an article about the lack of training available to nursing students when it comes to recognizing and handling ethics code violations. The results of a recent study reveal this may be a blind spot for all healthcare workers, both new and experienced. Specifically, the article will address what violations nursing students observed, how they responded, and tips to help all workers improve their knowledge in this area.