Why Nurses are Quitting in 2023: A Nurse's Perspective

Sara B

After reading this, you will understand why nurses quit or why I quit.

I talk about quitting my job frequently in my writings and videos, but I want to write down a few specifics and reasons and provide some background into the medical world.

If you have ever been a nurse or worked in the world of pharmaceuticals, you already know the struggle of being a nurse. Or the person stuck in the middle of all the drama, from the head of the hospital to the janitor.

“Save one life, you’re a hero. Save 100 lives, you’re a nurse.” — Unknown

First, let’s start with what is a nurse or nursing. According to the American Nurses Association, Nursing is:

21st-century nursing is the glue that holds a patient’s healthcare journey together. Across the entire patient experience, and wherever there is someone in need of care, nurses work tirelessly to identify and protect the needs of the individual.

What other profession has worked tirelessly in their description? Don’t worry; it only gets better. The definition continues:

A highly specialized profession which is constantly evolving to address the needs of society. From ensuring the most accurate diagnoses to the ongoing education of the public about critical health issues; nurses are indispensable in safeguarding public health.

Let’s find a less complicated definition. What is a nurse?

Provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families

Okay, it’s less fluffy and to the point. However, it is wrong; I mean legally, and per my nursing license, that is my job title and description. However, the first two are more accurate, as we do everything, get in trouble for everything, and are expected to know everything.

I read between the lines a bit!

This means you double-check the pharmacist, the doctor, the intern, the resident, the orders, the food, the dietician, the social worker, the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, and we are security guards.

I can only give you information if you have a code for your family member. I have always disliked this rule because cute little granny has neighbors who just want to ensure she is alive. Don’t worry, if I were your nurse, I would tell you if she was alive since I don’t want neighbor granny to have a heart attack because ¨the nurse won’t tell me¨.

I broke way more stupid rules than I should admit, but I will because I will never return to nursing.

“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription.” — Val Saintsbury

I mean stupid rules, as in, no, I will not use a specific sheet to take a report; if someone calls and wants to see if someone has a pulse, I will ask the patient and tell you. I will not tell you to call her family members; they don’t care.

Trust me, they don’t. I have spoken to thousands of family members, and they say I just said that because some type-A nurse wouldn’t leave me alone until I told them the answer they wanted. Usually, they hang up on me when I would call to ask questions, stating I don’t care.

It is cold, isn’t it, but a lot of family members are tired and cranky. You must navigate the rest using something not in vogue, especially in health care: Common Sense.

No not that, we try to kill that in nursing school!

When I began my nursing journey in 2004, it was fun. We did not have all the rules and regulations that were supposed to ¨protect the patient¨ but in reality, the new laws do not protect the patient but instead turn nurses into robots.

For example, if my whiteboard is not up to date, I will be written you up, so not only do I have to ¨do it all¨, but if my nurse assistant does not update the board, it is my fault; yes, of course it is.

Don’t worry; they kiss everyone else’s ass and blame the nurse for everything because I have no answer; that is the real job of the nurse, a scapegoat.

Scapegoat:a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.

America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.” — Barack Obama

I will admit some rules did improve with time, such as getting a lunch break with a nurse to do your work while you were eating; WAIT, that was only at hospitals with unions.

Okay, let me try again, getting time off uninterrupted by being called daily to work; WAIT, that never happened.

Giving patients cards to rate how good their care was, is that a safe one? Wrong.

Dear hospital administrator:

The hospital food was so bad I could not eat, and my nurse refused to order me better food. She said I was on a low sodium, sugar free diet. I hope she gets in trouble, because I was sick and needed real food.

Patient in Neuro-Trauma ICU


Even better, it was a complaint of ¨the nurse never answered the call light when I called¨. Some patients ring their call bells one million times a minute, and no matter how many times you answer, if you miss one time, that is all they remember, or if another nurse helps you, they want YOU.

Not all angels have wings … some have scrubs.” — Unknown

I almost forgot: we also had to call patients to follow up on how they were. No, we could not help; we just had to ensure they liked staying with us in the ICU.

What is the actual F.

Who likes staying in the ICU?

Patients and family members often yelled at me because they were not okay; the doctor’s office wouldn’t call back. Can you help? No, I could not. Seriously?

What was the point besides upsetting people, proving that the system is broken, and angering them even more? We did this while on shift, taking care of patients; it was part of our other ¨job¨ patient satisfaction.

I was a smart mouth; I was often in the nurse’s office, mainly for sticking up for my patients and nurses on my unit and talking about how if we are off, we are off, do not call.

Also, I was written up frequently for calling out; I was trouble, the story of my life. Why would you defend ethical and moral rights?

I almost forgot doctors yelled at me for involving palliative care multiple times. However, the Palliative care team always told me I was the only nurse to utilize them on my own and that other nurses were afraid to get yelled at.

There was a time when I almost went back to get a master’s and Ph.D. in ethics to work for them; I even spoke to the head of the team but decided not to since I knew I wanted to leave medicine eventually.

So why are nurses burnout and quitting? I have no idea, do you?

I almost forgot to add we have to be a dictionary of medications and side effects because the doctor never tells a patient what meds they will be on; they say ¨the nurse will explain¨.

It gets even better when you discharge a patient, and the doctor orders new medications to go home on and says ¨nurse to explain how to take and why¨. We are educators also; even though we have educators in the unit (they are nurse educators, silly; we are patient educators), we are expected to remember it all.

I have to look up everything, but be careful if they see you on the internet, you are in trouble, no matter if it’s for education or not; use the Med library, the one the hospital and some crook in big Pharma wrote and controls, you know that one.

happily headed to the unit

Why am I talking about this now, after five years?

Well, it is still an open wound, a career I went into to help and care for people that has become so robotic and cold.

I saw on my Google home page today that more nurses than ever are leaving the hospital seeking other opportunities. Shocker! After COVID, I am surprised any are left; trust me, it is for the money, which is why they stayed.

My favorite time of day is shift change. — Unknown (this quote says it all!!) It means we are done working!

Okay, maybe a handful ¨ love what they do¨ but I can bet you it is because most of them are stuck in the Matrix, the 7 to 7 grind, the new reality of living paycheck to paycheck; they can’t afford to quit, and they can’t afford to turn down overtime.

It’s a sad reality.

The best thing about nursing is the ability to make a lot of money if you are okay going to work and leaving work at work, turning off any sympathy you have, and just being a ¨yes maám, or yes sir¨person.

That is how I saved money to travel, went to work, did my job, and went home. I did not care if you wanted to tell me the sky was purple; I said yes, it is. I just wanted to work and earn money.

Unfortunately, I fought so much in my career that I was done. I was a lone wolf, and those who used to be on my side eventually said I would never win. Sometimes, the only way to succeed in career relationships is to walk away.

A survey done by McKinsey and Company has reported:

In our most recent pulse survey of inpatient RNs, we saw intent to leave rise again, from 35 percent in fall 2022 to over 40 percent in March 2023.

40% listen, that is a massive amount of nurses; where are they going?

They will work for insurance companies, CVS, doctors’ offices, and anything they can do from home; the rise of remote nurses is insane. When I first started traveling, I was the only remote nurse I knew, and now they are popping up like mushrooms after a storm.

Unfortunately, most are US-based, but I still would not do it.

The writing has been on the walls for decades. Yet, just like any government-run department, they refuse to listen to those who want to do good for the nursing community.

An ex-co-worker told me that no good nurses are left; the nurses see it as a robotic job. They now train them to homogenize the patients. No one is treated like a unique individual. They manage their disease, but that is not nursing.

That is not the career I went into. I love people and think there is more good than bad.

Patients need human touch, compassion, and kindness. They do not need some nurse who is so by the book and calculated that they forget why they have a job. They have a job because we have taken away families caring for their elderly when they are aging, and the disease rate is skyrocketing.

The US is one of the most unhealthy countries in the world. We do not encourage home remedies cures, and we sure have not gotten rid of fast food and chemicals in our food, products, and air.

We continuously poison the environment and wonder why everyone is sick.I saw this when I left nursing in 2018.

There was already a shortage; now, it is even worse. So maybe we need to do something different?

Also, I bet this survey is wrong; I bet 60% half of the nurses lied who were surveyed because they worry their employer might see it and be hard on them or make their life harder.

They do that; it’s called denying vacation requests, giving them the worst patient on the unit and extra patients when short-staffed. Nurse bullying is real and happens daily, but usually by management, not your co-workers.

I became a holistic health coach in 2014, thank you, IIN; during that time, it was a new emerging market. I never got into it or built a practice because I was laughed at.

I was told that you can’t heal with food and natural remedies. Now look how huge it has become; big Pharma has also infiltrated it. I used to close my patients' doors to give them honest advice and was seen as a lousy nurse giving them free advice on ways to heal. I was the devil of nurses.

Why give actual helpful advice that is easy and free?

Now, I am learning about Aruyveda and other ancient healing remedies. My nursing license needs to be renewed, and it’s the first year that I think I am going to let it go.

Why keep it if I am never going back?

I plan on starting a honey bee farm. Do you know how medicinal honey is, especially the ones in the Amazon?

Even Big Pharma knows it’s putting honey in ¨ wound-healing dressings.¨ I quote it because I’m sure it gets damaged after they process and add chemicals, but it proves that it works, and in its natural form, it works even better.

But everyone is so scared if it’s not FDA-approved, we can not use it; that is a lie the government made up to keep us compliant. If something is FDA-approved, I’m more likely to pass on it.

So, what will happen to patient care when the nurses leave?

Nothing. The nurses will have higher demands with more patients. With the exact expectations of quality, that is what they do; they expect the same with more patients.

This will lead to burnout, and then more nurses leave. It is a vicious cycle. Because, in the end, everything is the nurse’s fault. Don’t worry; this survey doesn’t include the nurses expected to retire in the next 5–10 years.

Most of my best friends are still nurses; they stopped asking when I was going back to the hospital.

So why did I quit? I am waiting for a revolution.

Maybe I am waiting for everyone to wake up and realize it´s one big simulation, and if we unite without hate and come together with love, we can win.

Maybe I´ll start the revolution; who knows, crazier things have happened. Nah, I prefer my peace and quiet somewhere atop a mountain, naming my bees. Where it takes you an hour to walk, or you need a horse to get to me!

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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news.

Pasadena, CA

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