Nurses need some care to stay in the profession
By Andrea Kay
By Andrea Kay
A lot of people want to become nurses. A lot of nurses want to be doing something else. These are my unscientific conclusions based on nurses I hear from and non-nurses who think they want to be one.
What is certain is that we need a lot more nurses, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Washington Times, referring to the report, stated that the United States has about 1.9 million registered nurses, 218,000 short of current demand. By 2020, we will need more than 1 million additional nurses to attend to the increasing demands of patients.
Before we lose the ones we have, it might help to understand why they want to leave the profession and how to help them stay in a field where they are sorely needed.
When I ask nurses what's wrong, most say they're burned out. This is a "very real phenomenon when you work with the public in a very fast-paced, high stress environment and you're making life and death decisions," says Donna Cardillo, a registered nurse entrepreneur.
Unhappy nurses are often in hospitals where they're responsible for too many patients and "don't feel they can give safe and competent care," explains Cardillo.
Some face mounting paperwork that keeps them from patient care, the reason many got into nursing in the first place. They deal with increasing regulations from government and watchdog agencies and cutbacks in staff, resources, education and benefits. In some places they don't have input on policy and decision-making.
When working in a hospital is no longer a good fit, they may leave the profession because they don't know they have options.
"Most of us entered nursing school assuming we would work in hospitals," Cardillo says.
If this describes you, don't bail yet. And if you're thinking about entering the field, there are loads of options.
First, there are nurse specialties where you can still be a hands-on nurse. One example: a correctional nurse who provides healthcare for inmates at correctional facilities.
But there are also many nontraditional roles, including:
Talk to these associations and people in nontraditional nursing roles. There are plenty ways for you to heal, teach, investigate, interpret and give advice as well as be at the bedside of the patients who need you.