Study: Surge In New Nurses Reflects Rise In Resignations, Job Shuffling


By Hailey Mensik

Nurses changed professions or left their employers more frequently from March 2021 to March 2022, according to research from Epic analyzing turnover.

The median length of time that nurses worked for their organizations dropped across the U.S. during that period, with the biggest declines occurring in the West, the study found.

Shifts covered by “new nurses” — defined as those who started working for an organization within the last 30 days — rose in all regions, while the number of 12-hour shifts filled climbed 55.5%, it added.

Epic’s study, which pulled data from more than 26 million 12-hour nursing shifts across 189 healthcare organizations, found that nurse job shuffling picked up speed just over a year ago. The findings paint a clearer picture of nurse staffing and turnover challenges that hospitals have faced over the past year.

From March 2021 to March 2022, median nursing tenure fell 19.5% across the U.S., with the median length of time nurses worked at their organizations dropping from 3.4 years to 2.78 years. A March survey found that a third of nurses plan to leave their current jobs by the end of this year.

Results varied geographically, with median tenure falling 32.2% in the West, 17.7% in the Northeast, 16.4% in the Midwest and 11.3% in the South.

It’s unclear exactly why results varied in different regions, though variations may stem from factors like nurse mobility and the number of employers and job opportunities available in certain areas, according to Johnston Thayer, one of the study’s authors and director of clinical informatics at Epic.

The percentage of shifts covered by nurses new to an organization rose across the U.S. during that period, with the largest gains recorded in the South and West.

Another turnover indicator also analyzed was the number of shifts covered by nurses new to organizations. New nurses were recent graduates, experienced nurses taking roles with new organizations or travelers, Thayer said.

Nurses with less than one year of tenure at an organization filled the greatest number of shifts, with the biggest increases recorded again in the South and West.

Occupational burnout exacerbated by the pandemic is a main driver of today’s turnover challenges facing health systems, according to a May 23 warning from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

As more nurses start working for new employers, “ensuring that there are robust programs for getting nurses up to speed on all of those differences at each organization is very important,” Thayer said.

“There’s no doubt that there are going to be new nurses working at organizations, and they need proper processes in place to help them catch up to speed and get ready for their work,” he added.


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