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Nearly half of nurses consider changing careers as nationwide shortage looms, RNnetwork study says

Heavy workload, on-the-job harassment by peers, managers are major drivers behind potential exodus, study shows.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

 A new national study by RNnetwork, a travel nursing company, shows nearly half of responding nurses are thinking about leaving their profession, and major drivers behind the potential mass exodus include feelings of being overworked and disrespected by their coworkers.

RNnetwork asked 600 nurses around the country about their workload, work/life balance, the national nursing shortage and how respected they feel at work via email. Most nurses surveyed worked in hospitals, and were between 25 and 55 years old, RNnetwork said.

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Results showed 49.8 percent are considering leaving the nursing profession. As for reasons, 27 percent of respondents feel overworked. Beyond that,16 percent don't enjoy their job anymore and 15 percent say they are spending too much time on paperwork.

The study also named a few troublesome trends. First, responding nurses said they don't feel respected in their workplaces. Nurses said verbal harassment is a problem, with 45 percent saying they'd been harassed or bullied by other nurses and 41 percent saying the ill treatment came from managers or administrators.

Despite the fact that few nurses feel they work more hours, 46 percent said their workloads have gone up when they are in the hospital or clinic, and 43 percent said their workplaces don¹t support a healthy work/life balance.

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Adding to that challenge is the pervasive sentiment that many nurses feel their full-time work doesn't pay enough. So even though they already feel overworked, 45 percent of nurses are taking on extra jobs to boost their income. Of those, 34 percent have taken on extra medical work and 22 percent dabbled in travel nursing, the study said.

Ironically, as nurses ponder leaving the professions, the country is staring down a major shortage in nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 1.2 million vacancies will open up for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. Meanwhile, 64 percent of respondents say a potential answer to the shortage is using travel nursing to fill staffing gaps. The survey found that 88 percent of responding nurses would consider working a temporary or travel job in the future, the study said.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn