Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career, but now more than ever, it’s essential for nurses to feel supported. Unfortunately, many nurses experience burnout that leads them to leave the bedside. Understanding why nurses depart the profession can provide a critical perspective on how better to retain those in this essential field of work.
This blog post will discuss 14 common reasons dedicated nursing students and professionals quit working at their patients’ bedside. We’ll also provide practical advice on how healthcare organizations can foster an environment that helps prevent burnout and encourages these passionate individuals to stay in their roles longer term.
Table of Contents
What is a Bedside Nursing
Bedside nursing involves providing hands-on care to patients at their bedsides. As a nurse, you’re responsible for monitoring patients’ vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, and dressing. You’ll also communicate with doctors and other healthcare team members to ensure patients receive the best care.
While it can be challenging at times, bedside nursing is incredibly rewarding. You’ll be able to form relationships with your patients and make a difference in their lives when they need it most. With the proper training and support, you can become a skilled and compassionate bedside nurse who positively impacts the lives of those around you.
What does Bedside Care Involves?
Nurses who deliver bedside care have a range of duties and responsibilities, including the following:
- Assessing patient health and checking vital signs (e.g., pulse, blood pressure, temperature)
- Administering medications and treatments as prescribed by the doctor
- Monitoring and recording patient progress
- Collaborating with other medical staff to create treatment plans
- Educating patients about their health condition and available treatments
- Assisting with activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing
- Maintaining a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for patients
- Counseling patients and families
- Acting as an advocate for the patient’s rights
- Providing emotional support to patients and their family members.
14 Reasons Why Nurses Leaving Bedside Nursing?
There could be many reasons why nurses are leaving their bedside jobs, but here are some of the most common:
1. Insufficient staffing levels:
A few factors are at play regarding staffing shortages in the healthcare industry. Among them are insufficient hospital funds, poor management, high patient-staff ratios, and burnout. In addition, some departments also need more qualified nurses due to retirement and a need for qualified nurses.
With more patients to care for and less time to do it, nurses are finding themselves stretched thin, and many are choosing to leave their bedside roles.
Hospitals facing regular staffing shortages may hire travel nurses or provide incentives to retain existing nurses.
Improving workplace culture, management, and communication can also go a long way in helping to retain nurses who may be on the fence about leaving.
2. Poor work/life balance:
One of the most common reasons nurses leave the bedside is for a better work/life balance. Nursing shifts are often long and can take their toll on physical and mental health. Additionally, many nurses have families or other obligations that require them to be available outside of working hours, making it challenging to juggle both.
Hospitals can create an environment where people feel supported by implementing flexible scheduling options such as telecommuting and job-sharing programs. This will allow nurses to adjust their hours depending on personal needs while providing quality care.
3. Low compensation:
Nurses are often underpaid for their hard work and dedication, especially compared to other healthcare professionals with similar qualifications and experience. Nurses are usually paid hourly wages and can find it challenging to make ends meet on a basic salary.
To keep nurses in their roles longer, healthcare organizations must provide competitive compensation packages that match the value of their work and incentivize them to stay.
4. Unsatisfactory working conditions:
Unsatisfactory working conditions may include stressful or unsupportive environments, inadequate resources, long hours, lack of professional development opportunities, outdated equipment, etc. In these situations, nurses often feel they have no choice but to leave their bedside roles in search of more fulfilling positions elsewhere.
5. Lack of career growth opportunities:
Nurses desire professional growth and may leave the bedside when their career opportunities are limited. This can be due to insufficient training or development programs, inadequate mentorship, and a lack of organizational advancement opportunities.
Organizations should look into offering educational courses, job shadowing programs, and other skills-building activities to help nurses reach their professional goals while working at the bedside.
6. Unfavorable policies:
Unfavorable policies such as punitive attendance rules or mandatory overtime can lead to dissatisfaction among nurses, who may then choose to leave their jobs in search of better working conditions. Organizations must review their policies regularly, ensure they are fair, and promote a positive workplace culture.
7. Lack of appreciation:
Nurses often feel undervalued and unappreciated for the work they do. Organizations should recognize their nurses’ hard work by providing regular feedback and awards and celebrating milestones like anniversaries. Showing appreciation can go a long way in helping nurses stay engaged and motivated in their bedside roles.
8. Non-Desire Schedules:
For nurses, working long hours is often a job requirement. However, it’s no secret that many of us have struggled with dissatisfaction over our schedules. It’s discouraging when relief workers fail to show up, leaving us to work longer than expected. In the past, I’ve even found myself on the job for more than 20 hours at a time.
Thankfully, I’ve learned to be prepared for these situations – like keeping emergency soup cans in my car. If you’re struggling with long shifts, rest assured that there are ways to help manage your time and stay prepared for unexpected events. Remember, you’re not alone in feeling overworked and prioritizing self-care is essential to maintain your well-being.
Burnout is a circumstance of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress or frustration. For nurses, burnout can result from heavy workloads, lack of sleep, feeling undervalued, and more. Symptoms can include fatigue, irritability, loss of focus and motivation, and an inability to enjoy activities you once found pleasurable.
It’s essential to address burnout before it leads to nurses leaving the bedside altogether. Take some time for yourself, get plenty of rest, and find ways to decompress, like journaling, exercising, or walking in nature. Organizations should provide resources that support nurses’ emotional and mental health, such as counseling services and stress-management initiatives.
10. Resource Challenges:
Healthcare facilities play a crucial role in our society, but resource challenges can make it difficult for nurses to perform their best work. Poor management, inadequate technology, lack of educational tools, low pay, and insufficient mental health services contribute to the problem. These challenges can be particularly stressful for nurses, leading to burnout and a lack of passion.
Over time, these issues can negatively impact workplace culture and morale, ultimately leading to the loss of staff members. However, there are solutions to these problems, and healthcare facilities can make a significant difference by providing the necessary resources and support. By prioritizing these resources and investing in their staff, healthcare facilities can create a more positive workplace environment that benefits everyone involved.
11. Unsafe working conditions:
Nurses can sometimes find themselves working in unsafe conditions due to inadequate resourcing or lack of support from management. This challenging and stressful situation could lead to burnout, errors, and personal injury. To reduce the risk of harm, healthcare facilities must create a safe environment for their staff members.
Ensure that the building and equipment are up to standard, and provide the necessary supplies, training, and support to ensure nurses feel secure. Additionally, create clear policies for reporting any potential concerns or issues. Healthcare facilities can help ensure their staff feels safe and supported by these measures.
Retirement is a natural part of life and is no different for nurses. Eventually, the time comes when many feel ready to leave bedside nursing and move on to other opportunities—or enjoy a well-deserved rest. For those considering retirement, thinking carefully about your decision before making a final call is essential. Explore all your options and be aware of potential pitfalls, such as losing healthcare coverage or income.
If you’re unsure about retirement, it’s a good idea to talk with family members and trusted advisors before making any decisions. Retirement can be an excellent time for new beginnings, so create a plan that works for you and your family. With the proper preparation and planning, you can enter retirement with peace of mind.
13. Personal Illness:
We all experience illness from time to time, but for nurses, it can be challenging. Not only is dealing with a personal health issue stressful, but it can also impact our ability to provide quality care. If you’re struggling with a personal illness, taking the necessary steps to manage your condition and balance work and life is essential.
Depending on the severity of your illness, it may be necessary to temporarily bedside nursing or take a longer- break. Talk with your healthcare team and family to create a plan that works for you. Additionally, don’t forget to ask for help from your colleagues and supervisors when needed—they’ll gladly assist you during this difficult time.
14. Job Dissatisfaction:
Missing out on promotions, feeling undervalued, and lacking job security can all contribute to job dissatisfaction for nurses. If you need more motivation at work, taking a step back and evaluating the situation before making rash decisions is essential. Are there any solutions to your issues, or is it time to move on?
If leaving bed nursing seems like the best option, take your time and think through each step carefully. Research alternative job opportunities and make sure they align with your career goals. Once you’ve decided, create a plan to ensure a smooth transition. With the proper preparation and support network, you’ll be able to find an environment that works better for you.
Six priority areas to Relieve the nursing workforce’s Challenges
- Healthcare leaders should focus on six priority areas to relieve the nursing workforce’s challenges next year.
- Listen to Your Nurses.
- Prioritize a Diverse Culture in the Workplace
- Offer flexibility
- Provide Training for Your Nurses
- Focus On Mental Health
- Introducing International Nurses.
Are Nurses Happy With Their Chosen Profession?
Nursing is an honorable profession that most are proud to be a part of. Unfortunately, this past year – in fact, the past several years – has been rough. And as a result, nurses have mixed feelings about choosing the profession:
A) 36% are happy they chose it
B) 40% are not
C) 24% felt neither
What Should Nurses Do If They Are Unhappy?
If you’re a nurse feeling unfulfilled, taking a step back and evaluating the situation before making any rash decisions is essential. Ask yourself if there are any solutions to your issues or if it is time to move on.
Research alternative job opportunities and make sure they align with your career goals. Once you’ve decided, create a plan to ensure a smooth transition. With the right preparation and support network, you’ll be able to find an environment that works better for you.
Leaving bedside nursing can be a difficult decision for nurses. But with the right preparation planning, you can enter retirement of mind. It’s important to talk with your healthcare team and family members to create a plan that works for you and get support from colleagues and supervisors.
Additionally, healthcare leaders need to focus on six priority areas to relieve the nursing workforce’s challenges next year, such as listening to nurses, offering flexible working hours, and providing training. Bedside nursing is a gratifying profession, and with the right training and support, you can become a skilled nurse who positively impacts patients’ lives.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.