The Tale Of Ugandan Nurses: Why Nurses are intending to leave their profession

Sub-Saharan Africa faces significant healthcare workforce challenges with 50.74% of nurses intending to leave their profession (Ayalew et al. 2021)

By Ikiriza Napoleon Bounaparte

Nurses make up a substantial portion of the healthcare workforce in most hospitals throughout the world and the nursing profession is crucial to the delivery of healthcare. Health facilities in Uganda are losing a subsequent number of nurses due to significant factors.

According to Flaubert (2021), Nurses are medical specialists who are essential to the delivery of healthcare services. Nurses’ intention to leave their profession is a critical issue affecting healthcare systems globally and hence leaving the sector with significant health-related implications.

Literature shows globally by 2030 the world will have a shortage of 18 million nurses. This shortage will lead to increased workloads, burnout, and intentions to leave the profession. Research has also revealed that 10.9% of nurses in developing countries either drop out or leave the country, while 47.5% of nurses in private facilities in Ludhiana intend to leave for greener pastures in developing countries (Boateng et al. 2022).

Sub-Saharan Africa faces significant healthcare workforce challenges with 50.74% of nurses intending to leave their profession (Ayalew et al. 2021)

Uganda, like many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, experiences a shortage of healthcare professionals, including nurses. According to the Ministry of Health in Uganda, the nurse-to-population ratio is approximately 1:11,000, significantly higher than the recommended 2.5 medical staff per 1000 by WHO. This imbalance places immense pressure on nurses, affecting job satisfaction and increasing the likelihood of leaving the profession. In 2010, a survey of 2203 nurses in Uganda revealed that 12% of nurses were satisfied with their nursing careers. Of the 200 interviewed, only 32% of the global average 53% was likely to remain in the profession (New Vision, 2010).

Nurses are the driving force of the health care system, accounting for 50% of the workforce worldwide and 75% in Uganda. In 2020, Uganda had a total of 70,167 nurses and midwives registered with the Uganda Nurses and Midwifery Council, but only 48000 were employed, leaving 22167 unemployed (Seed Global, 2020). 

Therefore a number of challenges such as long working hours, work overload, high staff turnover, low pay and salary disparities, poor professional image, lack of support from their managers, inadequate remuneration, high disease burden, delays in internship placement, poor working environment and lack of career progression all leading to job dissatisfaction and intentions to leave the profession. 

In conclusion, various stakeholders in the nursing field, including nursing practice, education departments, policymakers, and research departments need to revise policies. By identifying these factors healthcare administrators and managers can develop targeted strategies to improve nurse retention and address the underlying challenges. This will improve nurse well-being, increase quality of healthcare, and better patient outcomes.

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The writer is Ikiriza Napoleon Bounaparte, a Nurse at Murchison Bay Hospital, and RN Student at Aga Khan University,

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