‘Dangerous’: surprising reason why so many nurses quit

Nurses came under a lot of pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic, but some say it wasn’t just holes in the system that made their working lives more difficult.

Alleged bullying, favoritism, and neglect by managers and executives have led to some nurses leaving the profession, leaving even bigger gaps in staff rosters.

'Dangerous': surprising reason why so many nurses quit

Sofia (not her real name) was one of the 20,000 nurses who quit the profession last year.

She said one of the reasons for leaving a job she loved was because her manager was bullying her.

“There’s a big culture of bullying in nursing and against people who open their mouths – bosses will turn on them. That’s why nobody says anything,” Sofia said.

Sofia – Muslim and wearing a headscarf – was told by another senior nurse that she was rejected from further education opportunities because the boss was “racist”.

“That boss, you could see who liked her and didn’t. If you were one of those she didn’t like, whatever you say, your concerns would go unheard,” she told NCA NewsWire.

“There is a very bad culture in nursing. We had no one to talk to except each other because our bosses are not approachable.”

Camera icon Many nurses feel burned out and undervalued by the pandemic. NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi Credit: News Corp Australia

Former nurse Amy Halvorsen, who also left the profession last year, said standards and quality of leadership within hospitals had declined.

Ms. Halverson said managers found themselves between a rock and a hard place during the pandemic.

She said that with the “chaos” of Covid-19, exacerbated by understaffing and constant change of protocols, the focus shifted to simply getting it by shift.

“There was no chance to debrief; it was just through to the next thing,” said Ms. Halverson.

“I think the management has lost their ability to have heart and compassion because everyone focused on making it happen.

“They are too busy to monitor all of their staff and their staff’s issues. I felt like going to my manager and saying, ‘I’m not happy, and I want to leave’ was the least of the problems then.”

Camera icon Amy Halvorsen (pictured) is one of the thousands of nurses who have left the profession after her concerns went unanswered by management. Image: delivered Credit: Delivered

Former nurse and training coach Kathy McKenzie said the amount of training put into creating better healthcare managers was sorely lacking.

Ms. McKenzie said it was more important than ever to help healthcare overcome some of its biggest challenges.

“They get busy with work, but they never develop their staff,” she said.

“So they focus on the daily tasks that need to be done, which is fine, but if you don’t develop people’s consciousness, they become very limited in their thinking.”

“One of the big things I hear a lot is the lack of appreciation for diversity. I shudder at some of the racist comments I hear, and if they weren’t so understaffed, it would be a criminal offense for them to be fired.”

Ms. McKenzie said random performance indicators and protocols were a major headache that regularly resulted in nurses being scolded for minor mistakes.

“That’s very common in health; instead of appreciating the long hours people put into it, they pick up on the details,” she said.

Camera icon Kathy McKenzie is a former nurse who teaches leadership courses for managers in the health industry. Image: delivered Credit: Delivered

Sofia remembered how a small mistake was handled, which made her feel ashamed in front of their colleagues.

“My boss once pulled me to my feet because I left a needle in a bowl. It wasn’t safe, but she screamed for it in front of everyone. I’ll never forget it,’ Sofia said.

“They don’t see how much effort you put into it. We’ve never had a nice word. We never had a ‘guys, you all did a great job today’.

“Sometimes just one word of encouragement is needed to get through the shift.”

Ms. McKenzie said having staff who are afraid to speak up is detrimental to them and can easily create an unsafe environment.

“If people feel threatened in a workplace, they won’t report accidents or errors, and that’s where I see a real problem,” she said.

“Someone who is a real power tripper and terrifies everyone among them — and there are plenty of them in health — what happens is people don’t report if there’s a drug error or some other error,” she said.

“If you think comics are being ripped off you, you won’t report it.”

Ms. McKenzie feared the catalyst for change would not come until another public tragedy.

Camera icon Halverson said appreciation was rarely shown for nurses’ hard work and extra demands. Image: delivered Credit: Delivered

Ms. Halverson agreed, describing the existing workforce as “terrifying”, while Sofia said the lack of staff in all areas put lives at risk.

“Things like that happen because people just don’t pay attention and don’t listen to people on the front lines,” Ms. McKenzie said.

“When something catastrophic happens, they always find the money. But it’s too late.”

A spokesperson for NSW Health – which oversees a workforce of about 50,000 nurses – said it offered leadership and management development training programs.

It also promotes the core values ​​of collaboration, openness, respect, and empowerment and is working to create an online tool for managers to help address staff grievances and concerns.

“This is part of a larger project that will increase the capacity of managers and staff to strengthen relationships in the workplace,” the spokesperson said.

“NSW Health is also testing a methodology to conduct timely research into the culture of individual departments and units within health services designed to help managers solve culture-based problems.”

Lori J. Kile
I love to write and create. I love photography, design, travel and art. I am a full time freelance writer and photographer.I am very excited to be creating new content and opportunities for my readers.