Skip to main content Blog

Do’s and Don’ts: How to Write a Nurse Resignation Letter

Woman writing nurse resignation letter

According to a report conducted by Epic Research, more nurses are leaving jobs or changing roles more frequently. And as of March 2022, the median length of time a nurse stays in a role is 2.78 years.

As you move from one role to the next, a nurse resignation letter can help ensure a smooth transition.

A nursing resignation letter serves as formal notice to your employer that you’re leaving your position. It shows professionalism and courtesy and doesn’t burn bridges between you and your former employer. 

Planning your next career change can be exciting and even scary. And while writing a nurse resignation letter can seem like a chore, considering the details and knowing the do’s and don’ts can make all the difference as you navigate the next steps of your career.

Is a resignation letter a must?

John Woolsey

Not everyone agrees on whether resignation letters are necessary when nurses and other employees resign. 

A face-to-face meeting, whether in person or by video call, with two weeks’ notice is an ideal first step. But there are times when a resignation letter is a strategic follow-up, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article

There are reasons nurses should consider a formal resignation letter. According to HBR, those reasons include:

  • It creates a paper (or email) trail.
  • It might be considered customary in the profession or within an organization.
  • Written letters can help nurses better manage an otherwise awkward conversation.
  • Written resignations can help nurses control the narrative about why they’re leaving.

John Woolsey, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources at Keiser University, said employers often expect that employees will provide a resignation letter, or written notification, at least two weeks before they plan to leave an organization. The letter isn’t the end-all of a resignation, rather it’s part of an employee’s exiting process, according to Woolsey.

First things first

Anything less than two weeks might land a nurse or other employee in hot water, sometimes impacting benefits if nurses don’t provide ample notice.

Morgan Curry, BSN, RN, CANS, who has 10 years of nursing experience, said nurses should make sure they aren’t in a non-compete agreement before drafting the resignation letter. 

If they’re in a non-compete, resigning employees should clearly note in the resignation letter that their last day of work aligns with their contract and isn’t violating their non-compete, according to Curry. 

Woolsey recommends checking the company handbook to see what the requirement is for giving notice.

Resignation letter do’s and don’ts

“Keep it short and sweet,” Curry said. 

The resignation letter should be to the point and without blame.  

Nurses can at least mention their motivation for leaving, but here is where things can get sticky. Stating one’s reason for leaving could burn bridges, according to Curry. Maintaining professionalism will help keep nurses on the right track.  

“State briefly and clearly when you’re leaving and what you’ll be doing next. If you don’t have a next opportunity lined up, it’s fine to keep that vague — ‘I’m leaving to explore the next chapter of my career’ or something similar will suffice,” wrote Amy Gallo, author of the Harvard Business Review article.

Try to find something positive about your motivation to move on. For example, a nurse could refer to career growth as being the ‘why’ for taking another role, Woolsey said.

It’s good to express gratitude, but only when it’s genuine. What you write should be nice and true. Other ideas include that a nurse could, for example, state what they liked or learned while working for a healthcare organization, or point to a few proud accomplishments, according to HBR.

When possible, it’s good for nurses to point out events during their employment that may reflect positively on their supervisors, according to Woolsey.

The resignation letter is not meant to point out faults of an organization or specific people. The time to express grievances is during an exit survey or interview, Woolsey said.

Be sure to include what’s most important, including that you’re resigning, which some include in the email’s subject line as “notice of resignation,” and the official date. Make sure to proofread it for errors before sending it to your supervisor or human resources department. 

This is not the time to text, experts note. “Texting is not the normal communication of resignation,” Woolsey said. And texting often means an employee is providing no notice, he said. 

“When you don’t provide ample notice, you also burn potential bridges for the future,” Woolsey said. 

A few things to consider

The letter should end with next steps, including the nurse’s commitment to a smooth handoff of responsibilities.

A nurse’s departure can be tough on a nursing unit, clinic, or other healthcare environment — not to mention costly. Mentioning your willingness to help make the transition as smooth as possible in the letter is a nice gesture and helps relieve some of the burden of losing a staff member. 

What goes around…

Writing a professional, positive, timely resignation letter can help nurses preserve relationships with supervisors and organizations from which they resign. 

In an age of healthcare system and hospital mergers and acquisitions, nurses never know when they’ll run into former employers, including supervisors and HR staff, again. Or you might need those very people to help you tie up loose ends when you resign. 

Even if yours is just a formal resignation letter to HR  — not your supervisor —  it’s a good idea to add in a thank you to keep the email from appearing adversarial, according to a article. 

“You never want to make an enemy of HR, even if your direct supervisor is terrible,” Phoebe Gavin, a career coach, told “There are a lot of things from an offboarding perspective that you are going to really need HR for, and you may need to circle back with them afterward because you have questions.”

Nurse resignation letter sample

Nurse Resignation Sample Letter

Whether you're actively seeking a new role or assessing your next steps, explore's talent marketplace to help match your experience and skills to the best-fitting role.