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On the Brink of Resignation – When to Let go and When to hold on?

Are you thinking of quitting your job? Do you feel that it will just take one more push and you will fall from the hill forbearance? That it will take one nudge and you’re done… Yes, you are done tolerating and abiding the irrationalism and fanaticism of those who are above you.

nurse resignation

Don’t worry, you are not alone! More and more nurses across the globe are becoming disengaged from their work. Nurses who are feeling dissatisfied and frustrated every time their shift ends. Nurses who are just dragging themselves to come to duty. Nurses who lost their sense of purpose and fulfillment. Why is this so?  They may have varied reasons. But one thing’s for sure, these work manifestations did not happen overnight. Dissatisfaction and disengagement are caused by everyday struggles and poor working conditions.

Flinkman et al. (2013) stated that turnover intention appears to be a multistage process consisting of psychological, cognitive, and behavioral components and has been found to predict the actual decision to leave the profession. Another study by Hasselhorn et al. (2005) suggests that the majority of leavers began the process with serious consideration in the final year preceding leaving, and the actual decision to leave was then made within the 6 months prior to determination. Flinkman et al. (2010) stated that nurses’ intention to leave the profession varied from 4% up to 54% across the studies internationally. So, yes, you are not alone indeed.

But before writing up your resignation letter and joining the crowd of resigning nurses, please take a minute or two to read these thoughts and guide questions to help you balance-out your decision:

1. Are you willing to start all over?

Do you remember the lines you waited, the countless resumes you submitted, and the insurmountable papers you processed just to get where you are now? Just think of this: there are a lot of nurses who want to be in your position. So, are you truly ready to apply again and start the process all over?

2. Is there an opportunity waiting for you?

It may be easy to resign, but it’s not easy to apply for another job. You might regret if you experience unemployment again. Hence, before deciding to leave, make sure you have an opportunity waiting for you whether a business or a career.

3. Is your decision based not on your mere emotions?

Some days at work are full of frustrations. This frustration can lead to anger, and anger can lead to nasty decisions. Ziad K. Abdelnour once said, “Don’t promise when you’re happy, Don’t reply when you’re angry, and don’t decide when you’re sad.”

4. Are you financially stable?

Landing to another job is like landing an airplane for the first time: risky and shaky. Therefore, if you’re planning to quit your job, it won’t hurt if you save some bucks to sustain and keep you stable for a few months until you are grounded to another contract.

5. Are you psychologically ready for unemployment?

A study by Linn, Sandifer, & Stein (1985) stated that symptoms of somatization, depression, and anxiety were significantly greater in the unemployed than employed. Large standard deviations on self-esteem scores in the unemployed group suggested that some men coped better than others with job-loss stress. Furthermore, unemployed men made significantly more visits to their physicians, took more medications, and spent more days in bed sick than did employed individuals.

6. Do you feel that you are not growing as a better professional in your current employment?

In a qualitative study by Flinkman (2013) they discussed that one of the reasons why young registered nurses’ intends to leave their career it is because nursing was not able to provide the career development possibilities and intellectual challenges that they were able to gain by applying to university studies and by starting a new career. Do you believe your company is not giving you the opportunities to learn and to improve yourself?

7. Do you feel like you lost your motivation to work?

According to a study by Bonenberger (2014) motivation and job satisfaction were significantly associated with turnover intention and higher levels of both reduced the risk of health workers having this intention. In your personal assessment, is the human resource management effective in influencing you to stay?

8. Are you ready to leave your colleagues?

Building a rapport with people who are widely divergent is not easy. In your months or years of stay in that particular company, you probably gained several friends and genuine companions. Are you ready to say goodbye to good friends and meet new people?

9. Is it worth giving up?

Are you ready to give up all your benefits, remunerations, and perks? Are you ready to give up your job and the opportunity to touch other people’s lives? Is your resignation the best solution to give you true satisfaction and motivation in life?

When to hold on

If your answer is no to any of the questions above, hold your horses. If I were you, I’ll just let go of my grudges, take a vacation leave for a day or two, and rethink my priorities. For sure, in a few days’ time, you’ll realize again how much you love doing your job.

When to let go

If your answers are all yes to the questions above, then I think you are really ready to let go and move on. If you believe that everything doesn’t work out for you, what’s the point of holding on? George Burns once said “I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.”

Who knows what lies ahead? You will never experience BETTER unless you try. And one last advice: never, ever, regret whatever decision you will make.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Vincent van Gogh


  • Bonenberger, M., Aikins, M., Akweongo, P., & Wyss, K. (2014). The effects of health worker motivation and job satisfaction on turnover intention in Ghana: a cross-sectional study. Human Resources for Health, 12, 43. http://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4491-12-43
  • Flinkman M, Leino-Kilpi H, Salanterä S. (2010). Nurses’ intention to leave the profession: integrative review. Journal of Advanced Nursing; Pubmed. 66(7):1422–1434.
  • Flinkman, M., Isopahkala-Bouret, U., & Salanterä, S. (2013). Young Registered Nurses’ Intention to Leave the Profession and Professional Turnover in Early Career: A Qualitative Case Study. ISRN Nursing, 2013, 916061. http://doi.org/10.1155/2013/916061
  • Hall, A. (2013). ‘I’m Outta Here!’ Why 2 Million Americans Quit Every Month (And 5 Steps to Turn the Epidemic Around). Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alanhall/2013/03/11/im-outta-here-why-2-million-americans-quit-every-month-and-5-steps-to-turn-the-epidemic-around/#76d3fc3bf9fe
  • Hasselhorn H-M, Müller BH, Tackenberg P.  (2005). Nursing in Europe: intention to leave the nursing profession. In: Hasselhorn HM, Mueller BH, Tackenberg P, editors. NEXT Scientific. pp. 17–24. http://www.next.uni-wuppertal.de/EN/index.php?articles-and-reports.
  • Linn, M. W., Sandifer, R., & Stein, S. (1985). Effects of unemployment on mental and physical health. American Journal of Public Health, 75(5), 502–506.
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