When to Consider Quitting Nursing

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Morganne Skinner, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Tired nurse sitting in hallway contemplating quitting nursing.

Have you been toying with the idea of quitting nursing? You’re far from alone. Despite the time, money, and energy necessary to begin working as a registered nurse, there are many nurses leaving the profession due to burnout. Yes, nursing can be rewarding, but it’s also one of the most emotionally and physically taxing jobs out there.

You’ve got to do what’s best for you, and sometimes that requires big changes. With enough foresight and preparation, the transition to a new career can go smoothly. It’s important to have a firm grasp on why you’re leaving to help determine the kind of work you desire going forward (and what you want to avoid).

Below, we’ll share a list of some common reasons why nurses consider leaving the profession. On the bright side, even if you choose to make a change, your valuable expertise doesn’t have to go to waste.

Reasons to Consider Quitting Nursing


Reaching retirement age is a natural progression in one’s career. However, some older nurses are retiring early due to the added burdens created during the COVID-19 pandemic, plus mounting physical and emotional demands.

Unsafe Working Conditions

When facilities are understaffed, it can create the expectation that nurses must complete more tasks with less time and help. This unsustainable cycle can put patient safety, your license, and your physical and mental health in jeopardy.

Toxic Work Cultures

Unfortunately, coworker bullying is alive and well in the nursing profession. Nurses may also feel unheard and undervalued by administrators. With the added stress inherent to the healthcare industry, many nurses find themselves working in unsupportive work environments.

Mental and Physical Health Concerns

Considering the possibility for toxic and unsafe workplace environments, it’s easy to see how a nurse’s overall health could be negatively affected. Negativity and stress are not only anxiety-inducing, but also have physical ramifications on the body. Additionally, when nurses have less help, they often feel pressured to complete weight-bearing tasks by themselves, which can increase the likelihood of workplace injuries.

No Longer Rewarding

It’s common for nurses to consistently care for patients who never seem to improve — whether from lack of access to resources, faults in the health system, or the patient choosing not to prioritize their health. It can be disheartening to enter a healing profession only to feel like you’re hardly doing any healing.

Unsatisfactory Pay

Nursing is believed to be a well-paid profession, but that reality can vary greatly. Pay rates differ by state, experience level, facility, and whether the nurse is an employee or a contractor. There are plenty of nurses who don’t feel fairly compensated for the work they do. On top of that, staff nurses can feel resentful about travel nurses being paid significantly more than them. It’s hard to watch your loyalty go unsung.

How to Leave Your Job

When the time comes to leave your job, try your best to do so without burning any bridges. You never know when a current professional contact could benefit your future career. Inform your manager at least two weeks in advance. First tell them in person, then follow up in writing with a resignation letter or retirement letter.

How you go about informing your coworkers is up to you. It can’t hurt to send a general email to your floor or unit, but it’s not as necessary as informing your manager.

Quitting Nursing Could Mean New Beginnings

Your decision to quit nursing can give you more space to pursue other dreams. If you want to find work in the interim, IntelyCare can help you find the right kinds of jobs that support your next steps.