A stressed nurse
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Low wages and a lack of respect are the biggest reasons employers are having a hard time retaining and keeping nurses, according to a new industry survey. 

The findings were released Friday by the National Association of Health Care Assistants and featured responses from nearly 650 nurses assistants regarding their biggest challenges at work. NAHCA is a professional association that represents more than 26,000 CNAs. 

Low wages and benefits were the primary reason why certified nursing assistants left or considered leaving their jobs, and nearly 84% said it would take more money and better benefits for nursing homes to rehire them. 

Burnout and lack of respect from leadership were the second and third reasons CNAs cited for leaving their current jobs. 

“The comments from CNAs illustrate that the largest contingent of the long-term care sector’s workforce has reached a breaking point of extreme exhaustion and burnout,’ Sherry Perry, NAHCA board chair, said in a statement. 

“It is a tragedy that we are losing so many caring professionals to a crisis that could have been avoided,” Perry added. 

The survey comes just days after President Joe Biden’s extensive nursing home reform initiative called for implementing a minimum staffing requirement and pushed for better access to training for nurses.  

Recent data has revealed that the number of employees in the long-term care industry is the lowest it’s been in 15 years at about 2.97 million overall workers. That’s the lowest since January 2007. Research has also shown that an increase in wages shouldn’t be the only solution providers should use to retain workers. Improving work environments and empowering employees should also be considered.

The NAHCA survey findings also showed that 35% of CNAs who worked either first, second, or third shift had cared for between 15 to 20 patients during their shifts over the last four weeks.

“These survey results aren’t surprising, but they confirm and highlight the urgent need to prioritize efforts to attract and retain CNAs. This means not only better wages and benefits, but also strong cultures of inclusion and respect,” Lori Porter, NAHCA co–founder and CEO, said.