Is It Time To Leave Your Nursing Job?

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn

  • Is it OK to take a break from nursing?
  • What percentage of Nurses leave the profession in the UK
  • How a Nurse should evaluate if it is the right time to leave their job
  • Why Nurses are quitting the NHS
  • Where the latest Nurse jobs are and how to apply for them

Is it time to leave your nursing job?

Feeling unhappy at work can be tough. It can take up a lot of your time, thoughts and emotions. However, sometimes there are good reasons to think about finding a new job, even though it might be hard to do so. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals were stretched to their absolute limits, and Nurses faced extreme pressure working long hours to provide care for critically ill patients. Nurses had to balance the risk of infection to themselves and their family with their duty of care for patients during a period of uncertainty. 

In December 2022, history was made as thousands of Nurses voted for industrial strike action to secure better pay and conditions within the sector. Along with being the largest nursing strike in history, it was also the first time the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in England, the largest union representing nurses, has voted to strike.

A major reason for the nurse strikes is due to their pay not keeping in line with inflation during the cost of living crisis. Nurses felt that they were not being paid enough for all the hard work they do, particularly during the challenging years of Covid-19. 

According to The Royal College of Nursing, experienced nurses’ salaries have fallen by 20% in ‘real terms’ since 2010 which means that nurses are effectively working unpaid one day a week. 

Nurses are also striking due to severe understaffing which they maintain is dangerous to patients and themselves. The UK government is in the middle of a workforce crisis with data from July 2023 stating that there are 46,828 NHS nursing vacancies available.

Is it OK to take a break from nursing?

Yes, it's perfectly OK to take a break from nursing if you feel the need to do so. Nursing can be a demanding and stressful profession, and taking a break can help you recharge, reduce burnout, and improve your overall well-being. 

Whether it's for a short period or an extended leave, taking time off can be beneficial for your physical and mental health. 

However, taking a break from nursing is a personal decision, and planning is key to making the most of this time. Be flexible and adaptable, as your circumstances and goals may evolve during your break.

How to plan your break from nursing

Here's some top tips to help you plan your break from nursing:

  • Determine why you want to take a break and what you hope to achieve during this time off. Whether it's for personal reasons, career development, or health, having clear goals will guide your planning.
  • Review your financial situation and create a budget. Ensure you have enough savings to cover your expenses during the break.
  • Consider any outstanding loans, insurance, or retirement contributions and how they will be affected.
  • Communicate your intentions to your employer well in advance. Follow company policies and procedures for requesting leave.
  • Offer to help find temporary replacements or provide support during the transition to minimise disruption.
  • Check the requirements for maintaining your nursing licence and certifications during your break. Some may require continuing education or renewal, even if you're not actively working.
  • Understand that adjusting to life without your nursing routine can be challenging. Prepare emotionally for the break and stay connected with supportive friends and family.
  • If you intend to return to nursing, plan for your job search well in advance of your desired return date.
  • Update your CV, network with colleagues, and keep an eye on Nurse jobs which become available in your area of expertise.

How many Nurses leave the profession in the UK?

An analysis by independent health think tank, Nuffield Trust, has revealed that more than 40,000 Nurses left the NHS in 2021. That equates to one in nine of the entire workforce. The think tank has also revealed that many of the leavers weren’t necessarily retiring and were skilled and experienced Nurses with more years to give to the NHS. But the real question is why?

Why are Nurses leaving the NHS?

Nurses leave the profession in the UK for a variety of reasons, and these reasons can be complex and multifaceted. Some of the common factors that contribute to Nurses leaving the profession in the UK include:

  • Workload and stress - Having high workload and stressful working conditions can lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion. Many Nurses find it challenging to cope with the demands of the job over time. Feeling burnt out? Check out ways to manage nurse burnout. 
  • Career advancement - Some Nurses leave the profession to pursue further education or explore other career opportunities outside of nursing. It's not necessarily due to not enjoying their job. They may seek roles in healthcare administration, education, research, or completely unrelated fields.
  • Personal and family reasons - Working in a highly demanding role whilst having personal issues can lead to emotional exhaustion. For some Nurses it can get too much which means they have to leave the profession. 
  • Health issues - Nurses, like any other professionals, may experience health problems that make it challenging to continue working in a physically demanding and high-stress environment.
  • Dissatisfaction with pay - Low pay can lead to financial stress, making it challenging for Nurses to meet their own financial obligations. This stress can negatively impact Nurses overall well-being and job satisfaction.

How a Nurse should evaluate if it is the right time to leave their job

Evaluating whether it's the right time to leave your nursing job is an important decision that should be made carefully. Nursing is a demanding profession that requires dedication, compassion, and resilience. 

To determine if it's time for a change, Nurses should first reflect on their level of job satisfaction, consider the emotional toll of the work, overall happiness, and whether the job aligns with personal values and career goals.

However, there are moments when the challenges and circumstances of a particular job may lead Nurses to contemplate a change. 

What Nurses should consider before leaving their job

Here are some steps and considerations for Nurses to help them determine if it's time to leave their current job:

  • Nurses should start by reflecting on their own feelings and experiences. They should ask themselves why they’re considering leaving their role and if the reasons are that significant.
  • Nurses should assess their overall job satisfaction. They should consider what aspects of the job they don't get satisfaction from and see if there is anyone they can talk to about making it change. They should also ask themselves are they fulfilled by their work, or do they often feel stressed, frustrated, or unhappy?
  • They should evaluate their work-life balance. As a Nurse, are you finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life?
  • Nurses should consider long-term career goals. Does their current job align with their professional aspirations and growth potential? Or are there no opportunities for advancement or skill development within your current role?
  • Nurses should examine their financial situation. They should evaluate if they are financially stable to leave their job and evaluate if their job is bringing in enough income.

How should you quit your job as a Nurse?

Resigning from your nursing job should be done professionally and considerately. Finding the right way to quit a nursing job can mean better career opportunities in the future, whether it’s through the same or a different employer. 

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to quit your job as a Nurse:

  • Carefully review your employment contract to understand any notice periods, exit requirements, or contractual obligations. Ensure you adhere to these terms when resigning.
  • Write a formal resignation letter addressed to your supervisor or manager. Keep the letter concise, respectful, and professional. State your intention to resign, provide a last working date as per your contract, and express your gratitude for the opportunity to work with the organisation.
  • Request a meeting with your supervisor or manager to discuss your resignation in person. This should be done before submitting the resignation letter.
  • During the meeting, explain your reasons for resigning calmly and professionally. You don't need to go into great detail, but be honest and diplomatic.
  • Offer to assist with the transition process. Depending on your notice period and the organisation's needs, you may help train your replacement, prepare handover notes, or assist with the transition of your patients.
  • Ensure you complete all necessary paperwork, including HR forms and exit interviews, as required by your employer.
  • Maintain patient confidentiality and adhere to the nursing code of ethics throughout the resignation process.
  • Continue to fulfil your job responsibilities and maintain a professional attitude until your last day of work. Leaving on good terms is important for your professional reputation.

Nursing jobs

Did you know? We’re a dynamic and ambitious nursing recruitment agency with a great track record for connecting qualified and experienced nursing professionals with NHS Trusts and private sector organisations all over the UK. 

Discover and apply for your next temporary, permanent or interim Nurse job by uploading your CV or contacting our specialist nursing Recruitment Consultant, Kaylah Henderson, who will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have.

Looking to recruit nursing professionals? Why not check out everything Spencer Clarke Group has to offer today? Discover the nursing recruitment solutions available or call us on 01772 954200. 

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