The 2023 State of Nursing report was published not too long ago. Surveying over 2,000 nurses, it provides a vivid snapshot of how nurses in America feel about their position and the industry at large.
These findings speak volumes about both the consequences of the recently-ended lockdown, and what the future of nursing may look like. It is a lot of data to sift through, so we have gathered the key takeaways for your convenience.
More and more nurses want to leave traditional roles
Bedside nursing is steadily falling out of favor, in recent years. Although traditional nurses are essential to any healthcare facility’s success, these HCPs often found themselves at the center of the pandemic’s worst effects. With that in mind, it is no surprise that more nurses have considered transitioning to non-clinical roles.
For reference, the 2021 report had 29% of correspondents expressing interest in leaving clinical nursing. This year, that figure spiked up to 35%. Among other roles, nurses have looked towards nurse education, clinic/outpatient, home care and self-employment. Most popular answer was retirement, which is cause for some concern. Losing too many bedside nurses could have dire consequences, in the future.
That begs the question: what would it take to retain them? According to the survey, the top three answers are as follows:
- Improved working conditions (41%)
- Higher pay (63%)
- Better staffing ratios (71%)
Staffing shortages continue to be a problem
That 71% of nurses replied with “better staffing ratios” is no surprise. The results of the survey indicate that the nursing shortage continues to plague HCPs and facilities alike. A staggering 79% of correspondents believe that their units are understaffed. Nurses are commonly taking on more patients and longer hours than are reasonable.
Per the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, around 275,000 nurses are needed between 2020 to 2030, in order to address the nursing shortage. As of the most recent census, America is currently on pace to produce 195,400 new nurses from 2021 to 2031. This is about as fast as average for most professions, but not quite enough to fill the gap.
For the time being, it looks like staffing shortages will continue to be an issue for years to come. The culprits are who you would expect: up to 75% of nurses attributed these problems to widespread burnout. Working conditions and pay issues were the only two responses that reached higher than 50%.
Nurses feel underpaid
55% of correspondents saw a pay raise in the last year or so. Despite this, as much as 75% of nurses feel like they are being underpaid. The survey found that nurses will earn $61,000 to $80,000 a year, on average. Certain departments feel stronger about this than most. In particular, a staggering 83% of emergency nurses feel like they were not properly compensated. Surgical, pediatric, acute/critical care and long term care nurses (among others) also felt significantly underpaid.
You can see where the HCPs are coming from. Nurses already worked long and grueling hours, but the pandemic brought this to a boiling point. Even in a post-pandemic setting, nurses are still covering for inadequate staffing ratios and significant shortages that are challenging to fill, longterm.
The path forward
To say that nurses have “been through a lot” would be a gross understatement. In spite of everything, a whopping 60.3% of correspondents still love their jobs as nurses. There are still outstanding HCPs who want to remain in the industry, one way or the other.
The nurses want to stay. They just want better compensation and conditions in return. Facilities and healthcare companies have a duty to care for the exceptional workers in their payroll. If we do not look out for our healthcare heroes, healthcare in the future will have a far bleaker outlook than any numbers would suggest.