Why nurses quit (and what you can do about it)

There’s a nursing shortage in Canada, with an estimated 13 million more nurses needed in the next ten years to keep up with service demand.

Healthcare organizations are scrambling to hire enough staff to provide safe nurse-to-patient ratios and have coverage when staff need time off or call in sick.

Nurses are quitting, retiring and leaving the profession altogether, citing deteriorating working conditions and a rising psychological burden.

Here are the top eight reasons that nurses are quitting – and what you can do about it.

Nursing shortages

Recent surveys cite nursing shortages as one of the top reasons nurses are considering quitting or leaving the profession.

When a healthcare facility is understaffed, the healthcare professionals working directly with patients feel the burden the most, eroding mental health and leading to burnout and injuries.

Healthcare organizations have a challenge on their hands with workforce planning amid a nursing shortage. But it’s possible to solve the problem with smart staffing solutions.

  • Solution one: Using technology like the Florence app makes filling shifts and finding temporary nurses easy, fast and affordable.
  • Solution two: Another way to get coverage is to work with staffing agencies, although these can get expensive and are more time-consuming for the admin team.


Burnout in nursing is another major problem that healthcare organizations are facing. Prolonged high stress can lead to exhaustion, disengagement and a lack of feeling when caring for patients.

This has a massive impact on the quality of patient care and staff morale. Burnout also affects physical health and can lead to more sick days.

  • Solution one: Giving staff adequate time off increases work-life balance and improves working conditions, which helps you retain a thriving team.
  • Solution two: Fill shift gaps with agency support (or using the Florence app) so you have cover while your permanent team takes the time off they deserve.


Not having enough staff puts the burden of staff shortages on nurses themselves to fill the gaps, working overtime after already stressful shifts.

This puts undue pressure on nurses to accept extra shifts when asked, knowing that declining may mean their patients get poorer care and their colleagues are left with higher workloads.

  • Solution: As with staffing shortages and burnout above, the best solution is to concentrate on creating safe and sustainable levels of staffing; both in the long term by retaining more staff for longer, and short term by leaning on temp staff support if you need it.

High workloads

When nurses have workloads that they can’t realistically manage, both they and those in their care suffer. Studies have shown patient outcomes become poorer the more people a nurse is responsible for at a single time.

High workloads also lead to chronic stress and burnout, affecting nurses’ mental health (see below for more on mental health).

  • Solution one: Make sure to give staff adequate breaks so they can rest during shifts. Have a policy in place to protect this time for them.
  • Solution two: Consider how efficient your processes are for patient care: ask staff what tasks could be done in a more streamlined manner and use this feedback to adjust your facility’s processes.

Lack of appreciation

When people feel undervalued, they lose motivation.

It can be easy to be overrun by the many challenges of running a healthcare facility, but don’t overlook times when your nurses and other staff are doing an excellent job. Call it out and praise good work.

  • Solution one: Many healthcare organizations have recognition programs in place, but it’s worth reviewing these: you really can’t do too much to acknowledge and reward staff excellence.
  • Solution two: Do you have a weekly team accomplishment announcement? An employee of the month? Take the time to celebrate and share among the team when a nurse gets positive feedback from a patient or their family. This creates a culture of appreciation that can go a long way to helping you keep your staff for the long term.


As the nursing population gets older, more nurses are looking to retire. The pandemic also drove many nurses to consider retiring early.

This has made it even more difficult to keep up with staffing needs.

  • Solution: Focus on strong hiring and retention practices, especially for experienced nurses. If many of your staff are nearing retirement, make sure to have a robust training program in place for new nurses so knowledge is passed on.

Mental health

Working in an environment with staff shortages, high levels of burnout and unmanageable workloads has a heavy psychological burden.

When stress is chronically high and nurses are given little time to process or deal with difficult situations, it can affect staff’s wellbeing. Poor mental health can also lead to long-term disabilities and physical injuries.

  • Solution: To mitigate psychological harm to your nursing staff, it’s important to provide mental health support and foster an atmosphere where nurses can speak up if they’re struggling and get the help they need when they need it.

General dissatisfaction

Nurses are quitting because of a general dissatisfaction with their job. The exhausting nature of nursing can sometimes cause them to lose sight of why they went into nursing in the first place.

When nurses are under-appreciated, overworked and experiencing symptoms of burnout, it makes it more likely they’ll become dissatisfied with their work and want to quit.

  • Solution one: Make sure a strong professional development program and training opportunities are offered at your service
  • Solution two: Look at your organizational structure to make sure there is room for nurses to grow. This makes it more likely they’ll want to stay.

How Florence can help

Having safe staffing levels is the key to helping prevent many of the above problems.

Using a staffing app like Florence is invaluable for hiring when you need coverage, even at the last minute, without incurring agency fees or extra costs.

Your benefits with Florence include:

  • A fully vetted network of 7,000+ care professionals looking for shifts.
  • Post shifts to both your current staff and our network when you need help.
  • Nurses respond with a tap on their phone to accept a shift.
  • You choose how much to pay and accept the best candidate for every shift.
  • We don’t charge sneaky fees, so you can budget easily.

Find out more about our features here or book a no-obligation demo with our friendly team.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.