The nursing shortage has been a pressing issue in the healthcare industry, and travel nurses have emerged as a solution to this problem. However, a new study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (NCSBN) sheds light on the extent of the shortage and where the nursing workforce is headed in the near future. The study’s findings are critical for understanding the challenges faced by nurses and hospitals alike in the current landscape.
It was no secret that many nurses have left the profession in recent years, but the NCSBN’s survey published on April 13, 2023, revealed that the number is much higher than expected – approximately 100,000 registered nurses (RNs) left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years due to stress, burnout, and retirements. The study examined the impact of burnout and stress during the pandemic on nurses and the future of the healthcare industry.
For more information on key findings and recommended action steps for the future of the nursing workforce, visit the NCSBN website. Some of the notable findings include:
- Another 610,388 RNs reported an “intent to leave” the workforce by 2027 due to stress, burnout and retirement.
- 188,962 additional RNs younger than 40 years old reported similar intentions.
- Altogether, about one-fifth of RNs nationally are projected to leave the health care workforce.
- 62% of the sample reported an increase in their workload during the pandemic.
- A quarter to half of nurses reported feeling emotionally drained (50.8%), used up (56.4%), fatigued (49.7%), burned out (45.1%), or at the end of the rope (29.4%) “a few times a week” or “every day.”
- These issues were most pronounced with nurses with 10 or fewer years of experience, driving an overall 3.3% decline in the U.S. nursing workforce in the past two years.
- Licensed practical/vocational nurses, who generally work in long-term care settings caring for the most vulnerable populations, have seen their ranks decline by 33,811 since the beginning of the pandemic. This trend continues.
The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated, as it poses a significant threat to both the future of the nursing workforce and the well-being of patients. The data shows that a considerable number of nurses have left the profession due to stress, burnout, and retirement. This accelerated departure has put the healthcare system in a state of crisis. While some may suggest that nursing students could fill the void, there are concerns about their clinical preparedness and proficiency.
The nursing shortage crisis, combined with the challenges nurses face in the healthcare industry, poses significant threats to patient health and the nursing workforce’s future. Given the potential limitations of relying on new nurse graduates to alleviate these shortages, healthcare systems, policymakers, regulators, and academic leaders must act swiftly to identify and implement sustainable solutions.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a crucial topic that demands attention. Hence this recent study sheds light on the vital role of mental health in the workplace. However, it’s essential to take note of the survey’s precise use of words, such as “feeling emotionally drained,” “used up,” and “at the end of the rope.” While burnout is known for these types of symptoms, it can also be mistaken for anxiety and depression, making it an even more complex issue.
WHO describes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
The result of burnout can be seen in symptoms like:
- Feeling tired and drained most of the time.
- Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses.
- Frequent headaches or muscle pain.
- Change in appetite or sleep habits.
- Sense of failure and self-doubt.
- Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
- Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
- Loss of motivation.
- Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
- Withdrawing from responsibilities.
- Isolating yourself from others.
- Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done.
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope.
- Taking out your frustrations on others.
- Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.
With all the research and analysis, the question remains: what is the solution? How can nurses overcome burnout, thrive in their workplace, and make a decent income?
Travel nursing has emerged as a promising solution to address the issue of burnout in the nursing profession. It provides nurses with greater autonomy and control over their work, which can help alleviate the symptoms of burnout. Travel nurses are hired by healthcare facilities in different states across the country to fill the gaps in their workforce. These contracts are typically around 13 weeks, which provides nurses with flexibility in their schedule and the opportunity to gain experience in various healthcare settings. Moreover, travel nursing jobs often come with competitive compensation packages, making it a lucrative career option for nurses seeking to alleviate burnout and maintain their income.
Benefits of Travel Nursing
Travel nursing offers various advantages for nurses seeking a change from traditional work settings. Firstly, travel nurses can pursue their passion for nursing while experiencing diverse healthcare facilities and patient populations in different states. Secondly, with contracts generally spanning 13 weeks, travel nurses have the flexibility to move to a new location and contract, extend their current contract or take some time off. Thirdly, they can create their own schedules and take time off to better fit their lifestyle.
Travel nursing empowers nurses to take control of their lives and build a solid work-life foundation, though it requires flexibility in choosing their destination. While many travel nurses aspire to work in California or live the life of a New Yorker, travel nursing offers unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. TheraEx Staffing Services has years of experience in providing personalized solutions to healthcare professionals, catering to their specific needs and preferences. Our team is dedicated to placing travel nurses in the best possible positions to support their mental health and professional development. If you’re interested in exploring exciting opportunities in travel nursing, click here to learn more!
The healthcare industry must address the need for change, as nurses continue to leave their jobs for better work-life balance. While we understand the importance of prioritizing personal well-being, years of study and work should not go to waste. If you’re a nurse seeking a solution, consider travel nursing. It could be the answer to maintaining your career and avoiding burnout. At TheraEx Staffing Services, we specialize in placing travel nurses in positions that align with their needs. Click here to explore opportunities that could help you thrive.