What Impacts Nurses Either Staying or Leaving?

Nursing shortages have reached crisis levels. The current instability of the nursing workforce also reflects and contributes to the pandemic’s toll on nurses. Nursing staff shortages are nothing new, but the pandemic has made the problem much worse. A few sobering statistics:

  • The vacancy rate for registered nurses was almost 10% in 2020, almost a full point higher than the prior year. Over a third of hospitals reported a vacancy rate higher than 10%.
  • Nurse turnover rates are increasing, standing at about 22% in 2021, compared to 18% in 2019.
  • It takes an average of three months to recruit a qualified nurse to fill a vacancy, a period that is expected to increase in the wake of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

In a survey conducted by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) in August 2021, 75% of nurse leaders indicated that the emotional health and well-being of their staff is their top challenge. Among nurse leaders themselves, 25% said they are not emotionally healthy, with nurse managers particularly at risk — 36% of this group reported that they are not emotionally healthy.

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