RNs experiencing the workforce shortage sits sadly on the ground as another caregiver seeks to console her.

An AMN Healthcare survey of more than 18,000 registered nurses in the United States found that nearly 1 in 3 are likely to look for a different occupation. 

The survey highlighted widespread dissatisfaction among this group. Less than half of nurses in all employment settings responded “I will continue working as I am” in the coming year. According to the report, career satisfaction among nurses has not dipped below 80% in the last 10 years, but in 2023, it was recorded at 71%. Causes include workplace satisfaction, mental health and well-being, and challenges brought about by COVID-19.

This year also saw a spike in stress levels among RNs. The percentage of survey respondents who said they experience “a great deal” of stress on the job rose from 38% in 2021 to 56% in 2023. The survey polled more than 800,000 RNs in the United States from Jan. 5 to Jan. 18, 2023, and received 18,226 completed questionnaires, of which 11,918 were from staff nurses with the remainder being travel nurses, per diem and other.

Another persistent problem facing the profession is the lack of nursing filling the spots of those who are retiring. About 17% of nurses surveyed indicated that they are eligible for retirement, and one quarter of those said that they will retire in a year or sooner. But for the first time in over 20 years, the U.S. last year saw a decrease in the number of students enrolled in baccalaureate nursing programs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Among those in the field, younger nurses are the least satisfied with their careers and current jobs, the least likely to recommend others enter the field, the most stressed in their current job and the most likely to leave their career as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses also sounded the alarm on the nursing shortage. Nearly 9 in 10 nurses say the nursing shortage is worse than 5 years ago — a 37-point increase from 2019.

To combat this apparent “exodus,” some employers have looked abroad to find labor. The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools, which works to certify foreign caregivers in the United States, had more than 17,000 applicants to its screening program in 2022, according to a report in Bloomberg News. However, immigration is a slow and arduous process, and U.S. employers are not the only ones demanding more workers.

“We’ll never make up for those shortages by bringing people in from abroad,” Megan Cundari, director of federal relations at the American Hospital Association, told Bloomberg News. Solutions, therefore, must be found through other means, such as efforts to reduce the stress experienced by nurses in the field and improving work conditions. 

Among home care agencies, nearly 90% have had to turn away care because of issues related to staff shortages, according to a new industry study. Leaders believe that an approaching adjustment to Medicare rates would deepen staffing problems experienced by providers.