Today in the chart

Today’s Nurses Want More From Their Careers, Survey Shows

Between nurse burnout, the rising cost of living, and professional and personal growth concerns, nurses are getting creative to make ends meet and feel fulfilled in their careers.

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Do you feel like you’ve seen more nurses with side hustles lately? Or are more nurses going per diem or getting additional education? You aren’t imagining it. Between nurse burnout, the rising cost of living, and professional and personal growth concerns, nurses are getting creative to make ends meet and feel fulfilled in their careers.

connectRN, a leading nurse staffing community that offers flexible shifts and resources to clinicians, partnered with The Nursing Beat to poll over 1,300 nurses. The population included CNAs, LPNs, and RNs, and revealed that today’s nurses are interested in pursuing non-traditional career paths in pursuit of professional satisfaction. 

The new nurse isn't willing to settle. They understand the expertise they bring to healthcare as multi-faceted, talented, and powerful nurses. They work hard and prioritize excelling in their career, but they don't sacrifice their mental health in the process. 

Most importantly, the new nurse is not afraid to try new things. 

connectRN, a leading nurse staffing community that offers flexible shifts and resources to clinicians, partnered with The Nursing Beat to poll over 1,300 nurses to discover what today's nurses value. The population included CNAs, LPNs, and RNs. The survey revealed that despite the barriers of the traditional nursing model, the new nurse is interested in pushing boundaries to pursue higher education, business, and other personal and professional ventures. 

What Did Over 1,300 Nurses Say?

Even though nursing burnout and changing attitudes amongst nurses are a concern, few academic studies cover these topics. connectRN’s poll provides key data on the elusive subject. The survey cements what many already suspected: nurses are interested in departing from traditional nursing and traditional nursing schedules. 

The survey breaks down into three main categories: perceptions of nursing side hustles, traditional hospital work, and work-life balance. 

Nursing Side Hustles

Emma Geiser, BSN, RN, the founder of Nurse Fern, a remote nursing job board and resource hub, says the results of this study are disappointing but not surprising. “Nurses should want to leave nursing for entrepreneurial ventures because that was their plan… not because they’ve been forced out.” She also adds that nurses shouldn’t need side gigs and additional per diem roles on top of full-time work to support themselves. But, “Nurses are scrappy and innovative. If traditional employment doesn’t support our needs, we’ll figure it out ourselves.” Side hustles aren’t only for additional revenue, they are also a rewarding personal outlet that’s often inaccessible within the traditional nursing model. 

Survey Results

  • Half of the nurses polled have side hustles outside of nursing.
  • Over 25% of nurses with a side hustle plan to make it their full-time job. However, that proportion jumps to nearly 50% among those who have been a nurse for less than three years. Newer nurses may have a greater sense of career freedom that allows them to explore taking a less traditional path. Those that have been nurses for less than three years are more likely to want to pursue health coaching or aesthetics. 
  • The majority of nurses cite their reasoning for side hustles as a want or need for additional income. 

Traditional Nursing Roles  

Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, NRP, the 85th nurse to achieve all five emergency nursing certifications, finds the study results interesting. Green has seen more nurses go per diem earlier in their careers and explains, “I support whatever keeps nurses in the profession, but this research further shows the gaps and issues in nursing that are continuing to create burnout and push nurses out of the profession.”

Survey Results

  • Nursing is seeing increased popularity of per diem nursing due to burnout. 
  • 62% of nurses reported increased workload since the Covid pandemic started.
  • The majority of nurses agree that agencies and staffing platforms allow for more autonomy and independence. 

Work-Life Balance and Personal Growth

Diana Page, ACNP-BC, a Nurse Mentor and Founder of Self-Care Catalyst, says that nurses taking on non-traditional roles is not only about burnout prevention but also signifies growth in the healthcare community. “When we enable nurses to balance their career growth, mental and physical health, and family life, we promote the retention of these invaluable professionals. As an NP and nurse entrepreneur, I see how this approach is vital in building a sustainable healthcare system and revitalizing nursing culture for the better.”

Survey Results

  • Between 60-70% of nurses feel that their job interferes with their ability to perform other responsibilities, with top concerns including health/fitness, household management, traveling, and relationships. 
  • 42% of nurses polled said they care for children without support. 
  • While 25% of nurses are pursuing additional educational opportunities, more than 50% are interested, but their current schedule makes it infeasible.

Supporting This Generation of Nurses

Nurses that value work-life balance, professional development, and creativity will likely experience cognitive dissonance as they work in traditional nursing jobs. 

To support today’s nurses, the nursing community and healthcare businesses can employ a few strategies:

  • Provide nurses with growth opportunities. Many health organizations need more professional mobility for nurses and need to provide nurses with non-traditional supporting roles in healthcare settings.
  • Allow nurses to have more autonomy. Creative scheduling and contract options would allow more nurses that want to spend time on other entrepreneurial pursuits to stay involved in their local hospital systems or healthcare community.
  • Implement competitive pay and proper staffing. Nurses who feel compensated and supported in their work will feel that the 36 hours they put in a week for a full-time nursing role are worth their time and mental load. 
  • Openly celebrate nurse innovators and entrepreneurs. Nursing needs a culture that supports nurse influencers, side hustlers, and inventors. Healthcare organizations can take advantage of the opportunity to utilize and collaborate with their nurse creatives. 

The attitude of today’s nurses of wanting better work-life balance and fair compensation gives employers in a capitalistic marketplace two choices: cater to the changing mindset, or lose staff nurses to entrepreneurial ventures and more flexible nursing roles. 

As more nurse entrepreneurs focus on solving problems, providing resources, and entertaining the nursing community, there will continue to be a need for more nurses willing to work with traditional nursing schedules and roles. connectRN is a leading staffing platform that gives nurses the autonomy they crave with flexible work schedules to support them in all their endeavors, without having to choose between nursing and other career and personal aspirations.

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