The nursing profession is a job that demands both critical thinking skills and emotional excellence. A proficient nurse must be able to empathize with patients while at the same time, handle the intricate processes and medical interventions that the patients need. These are only two of the hundred different skills that a competent nurse must possess. That is the reason why the road to becoming a professional nurse is daunting and extremely challenging. On the tip of the iceberg, 4-year schooling is the basic requirement to acquire the necessary skills that one must possess to practice nursing.
Then comes the board examination. After officially becoming a licensed nurse will a nurse be allowed to formally practice the full scope of nursing – that is after all the necessary post-licensure training that a nurse should also have like the IV Therapy, Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). So, after overcoming all these obstacles, after spending all that money for schooling and training, why do nurses leave the nursing profession? Why is it that many nurses choose a different career path aside from the nursing practice instead?
In this article, we will dissect the variables and the reasons that we have gathered from many of our colleagues that have shifted their careers from nursing, and it turns out that there are 5 Reasons Why Nurses Leave the Nursing Profession.
1. I Didn’t want to Study Nursing
For this 1st variable, we found it very common for many of our Asian nurses, especially the Filipinos. In the Philippines, more often than not, the parents are the ones who pay for their children’s education up until graduating from college. Hence, often they decide what course their children will take. Although it’s a golden ticket to secure your future, the problem arises when the course that their parents choose for their children is not their children’s choice. What these parents do not understand is that it takes a lot to become a nurse.
Education and training is, like I said, the tip of the iceberg; the real challenge comes after all of the schooling and certification. The real problem is in the area of nursing practice itself – when you need to go to the hospital every day and be the hero you are meant to be, and not everyone can do that especially when you lack passion for doing it. Speaking of passion, here’s our second variable;
2. I Didn’t Find my Passion
Some of the nurses we asked have answered, “I haven’t found my passion for it.” They are those who did study nursing in their own free will, did like it at first, loved the challenge, but didn’t find satisfaction on the craft. They are those who realized after spending some time in the field that they were not liking what they were doing, so they decided to venture to other professions. This is understandable considering that they tried, and if they have the luxury of exploring other professions, then it’s their prerogative, no one has the right to tell them otherwise.
After all, it is challenging to find passion into a job that spells STRESS, and one has to be ultimately resilient to be able to run the long miles. So, if you are one of the nurses who seem to not find passion into what you’re doing, maybe it’s too early to give up. Here’s the thing about passion; passion is not something that sparks inside your heart, or it’s not something that you stumble upon on your 3rd day of practice or your 2nd month or your 1st year of practicing nursing. It doesn’t work like that.
The reason why people don’t find their passion is that they don’t spend enough time to immerse their selves into whatever they are trying to do. One of the wrong connotations about passion is that people think that when someone is good at what he/she does, they often say that they are passionate about what they do.
There are a lot of people who are extremely good at doing what they do but are not happy about it. That’s the keyword – happiness. So, where is passion found? Passion is found through difficult times. It is built around the failures and the missteps along the way of our practice. Passion is when we felt like giving up, but for whatever reason, we didn’t, and we pushed forward even though we didn’t feel like pushing further. That’s where passion is found. And that is why sometimes we don’t see it, because we’re not looking at the right place. Passion for things is not found, it is BUILT. Happiness comes after.
3. Nursing Salary Too Low
This is true for many of our nurses in Asian countries. In this video Why the US has so Many Filipino Nurses article that we posted, one of the reasons why Filipino nurses migrate to other countries like the US is because of the salary of nurses in their own country is less than the salary of a janitor or a messenger before. But even after all these years, it’s almost the same old story, just different times.
This is one of the reasons why licensed nurses shift to corporate jobs like Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs), Virtual Assistants, or Freelancing. Because despite their love for the craft, they have mouths to feed and families to raise – people will not hesitate to jump ship when it’s for the benefit of their family, it’s a no-brainer. We find that this variable is the go-to answer of most of our nurses when we ask them why they shifted to other professions. “This job simply pays more,” or “I have a family to support, and the hospital wage isn’t cutting it.”
We can’t do much if the government does not invest in health care as compared to other countries that are big into investing in their health care systems like the US, UK, and UAE. For those nurses who don’t have the luxury of time and money to migrate to these countries, they often choose to shift to other jobs that will suffice the financial needs of their families.
4. Burn Out
This is the reason for some of our nurses who worked on hospitals with an over-the-limit hospital ceiling. Hospital ceiling means that the hospital caters more than what their bed capacity can accommodate. It could also mean that the hospital functions with fewer nurses than what is needed for the bed capacity. With one or both of these scenarios present in the hospital, it’s more likely for a nurse to be burnt out from the pressure and the unjustifiable workload that needs to be done. If we add the low compensation, then it will most likely not be a matter of why but a question of when before a nurse will quit due to burnout. Check out this article 5 Ways to Love Your Shift and Defeat Burnout about how to love your toxic shift and the different ways on how to overcome burnouts.
For some, the reason why they left the nursing profession was due to a lack of professional growth. Pursuing post-graduate courses can be quite challenging, and for some, time and financial constraints are the reasons why they can’t commit to it. A master’s in nursing or a specialization in a specific area are vital factors to be promoted or push our careers forward. Without it, our career growth will be slow, if not impossible. While some hospitals or institutions actively support and even sponsor the cost of education of their staff nurses, not everyone is lucky enough to work in an institution that shows that much of a concern to its employees. Growth, in whatever aspect, is paramount to our fulfillment.
Professional growth is just one of the different aspects of life where we should put our focus on. If this is taken away from us or if we do not do this, we will eventually get bored if not tired of the routines that we do over and over again. There need to be variations in our tasks for us to keep going. Thus, if we fail to grow professionally, what will actually happen is we will either hate our job or quit our jobs.
Regardless of one, a combination of two, or all these variables that have had played a part of why nurses leave the profession, these factors are preventable. For whatever it is that might happen or that has happened to us – it will all boil down to PERSPECTIVE. Our perspectives in life are the primary variable and the only difference in being successful or unsuccessful.
There are a lot of things that one can do in the realm of the nursing profession. One has to look deeper and move further. For those that are on the brink of letting go of this noble profession, remember that passion is not something that we stumble upon, nor something that we discover. Passion is that moment that you are in, that moment when you’ are on the brink of giving up – but chose not to.