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Nurses expect speed when they are ready to change jobs

BY: Carole Jakucs, BSN, RN, PHN on May 2, 2018

Nurses looking for a new job want to make the switch to a new position fast, according to a recent Nurse.com salary survey.

The survey found 78% of nurses actively looking to change jobs prefer to do so quickly. Nearly half want a new job within three months or less. About one-third of nurses hope to land a new position within six months.

What does this fast turnaround time mean for nurse recruiters and human resource professionals?

“Recruiters need to have their strategies in place so they can move quickly to capture the nurses they need and who they are trying to recruit with the recruitment processes they are practicing,” said Mattia Gilmartin, PhD, RN, executive director at Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing at New York University.

With 65% of all nurses responding to the Nurse.com salary survey saying they are open to changing employers, finding ways to recruit and hire nurses in a timely manner is a good strategy to capture the candidates who appear to be the best fit for one’s organization, Gilmartin said.

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There are regional differences in the U.S. regarding the supply and demand for nurses, Gilmartin added.

“If you’re a nurse in an area where nurses are scarce, you can move more easily and quickly from one job to another,” she said. “If you’re living in an area where there are more nurses, it may take more time to switch jobs, as the pool of candidates for recruiters to choose from is larger.”

Why do nurses want to change jobs so quickly?

Two larger questions related to these numbers are why are so many nurses wanting to change jobs and why so quickly?

“As an organization or a nurse manager, if you want to keep your nursing staff and don’t want them to leave, you need to do something about that,” said Christine Tassone Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, a Mathy Mezey professor of geriatric nursing and researcher at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing at New York University. “If your staff are unhappy, you need to find out why, counsel them and work to find a career path within the organization so they won’t want to leave.”

Kovner pointed out some nurses have predetermined timeframes for how long they want to stay in their jobs. There is not much an employer can do to make this group of nurses stay.

Some examples include a nurse who only wants to stay one year before she begins a master’s program or only work for two years in one location because of a planned family move to another state, she said.

“Recruiters, managers and human resource people will find that in these situations, there is not much they can do to keep nurses in their jobs when they have plans in place for when they want to resign,” Kovner said. “However, for nurses who don’t fall under these types of situations, employers need to find out why their nurses want to leave their jobs.”

Learn how shock theory plays into turnover for jobs

The Nurse.com salary survey results showing many nurses want to leave their jobs – and want to leave them fast – can be a direct result of shock theory in play, Kovner said.

“Shock theory is a well-known theory that discusses the impetus behind employee turnover across many occupations, including nursing, as based on the idea that an unusual, unpleasant or shocking event can many times precipitate the feeling and attitude of, ‘I want out of here,’” Kovner said.

Kovner said some examples include having a baby, getting married, preparing for a partner’s unexpected job transfer or suffering an injury of some kind sustained either on the job or off, such as a back injury.

Those precipitating event examples can provide the impetus for nurses to wish to leave their jobs.

Another big reason many nurses want to leave their jobs relates to poor quality managers, Kovner said.

“Many times, excellent clinicians are promoted to management positions,” Kovner said. “Good clinicians are not always the best managers. Nurses who are used to working with patients can become accustomed to compliments from patients, thanking them for their care.”

“When you become a manager, you don’t get that,” she continued. “You have to attend meetings that you may find boring, deal with problems related to staff performance and patient complaints – these may not be so gratifying.”

Another reason nurses often want to change jobs is because they can no longer tolerate their managers, Kovner said.

“I wish that nurse managers would read and act upon the large body of organizational research out there regarding evidence-based practices that contribute to good leadership,” Kovner said. “High-quality leadership contributes to nurse retention and job satisfaction.

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Carole Jakucs, BSN, RN, PHN

Carole Jakucs BSN, RN, PHN, is a full-time freelance writer. Her background in nursing includes tenures in healthcare management and as a care provider. She has worked in med/surg/telemetry, pediatric emergency department and college health. She’s a health and fitness enthusiast, studies dance and enjoys cooking.