Why Is There Such A High Turnover Rate for CNAs?

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You might think low pay is the obvious answer to why CNAs leave their jobs so often. But it turns out there is much more underlying the high turnover among this essential part of the healthcare team.

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Here is a look at what influences CNAs to leave their jobs and even their career in healthcare.

The Rate of Turnover

According to Long-Term Living Magazine, the newest statistics indicate 8.4% moved to other facilities and 5.8% left healthcare altogether. The magazine summarized the results of study done by researchers at several universities and published in The Gerontologist. The focus was on turnover at facilities that handle long-term care.

The study cleared up previous statistics that stated CNAs were leaving the profession or switching to other facilities at an amazingly high rate of between 23% and 36%. The newest reports indicate these percentages were wrong, the result of earlier studies mixing full-time and part-time employees.

Though these rates are much smaller, it still shows a high rate of turnover.

Why They Leave

The four big causes of leaving a facility were:

  • Problems with their physical health
  • Health benefits and paid leave
  • Low job satisfaction
  • Low pay

Here is a closer look at each of these reasons.

Physical Problems

CNAs in many cases felt that their physical problems were made worse, or even the result of, the constant demands made by their daily duties.

The job of CNA is very physical, requiring the transfer of patients from bed to wheelchair, the moving of heavy equipment and the lifting and twisting involved in performing other patient care tasks. Done on a daily basis, this can make major demands on a person’s body,

Facilities that offered adequate health benefits and paid leave retained higher numbers of CNAs.

Low Job Satisfaction

CNAs reported that low job satisfaction was due to emotional distress from dealing with patients every day, the constant demands of the job and too little respect of supervisors.

The magazine Scrubs described how common it is for RNs and LPNs to delegate work to CNAs simply because they don’t want to deal with “dirty work,” a term for duties like bed baths and cleaning bed pans. The article says that some nurses feel “once they get licensed, they don’t need to get their hands dirty.”

Poor Pay

Full-time CNAs can expect to earn about $24,000 a year, or about $11.73 an hour. Becoming certified for CNA positions requires just six weeks of training, far less than the schooling required to become an LPN or RN. This fact is often cited when explaining the wide difference in pay rates.

However, offsetting this is the huge demand for CNAs, expected to rise 21% through 2022. Currently they make up about 25% of all paraprofessional workers in healthcare. They are considered essential members of the healthcare team because they do so much of the actual hands-on work with patients.

The high turnover has a negative impact not just on the CNA, but also on healthcare as a whole. Patient care suffers and the costs increase for the hospital or facility because management must recruit and train new employee. In addition, each job vacancy results in lost work hours.

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