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Nurse Job Hopping: Does It Help or Hinder Your Career?

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You’ll likely change nursing jobs more than once in your career. Nursing is one of the few professions where you can leave a position and easily find a new one. 

But the question remains — even when there is ample job opportunity, is it good for your career to frequently change positions?

As you come to a crossroads in your career, knowing how to navigate your choices carefully can help to mold your best future. Learn how to weigh the pros and cons of nurse job hopping with an eye to building a respectable resume.

What is nurse job hopping?

Changing nursing positions frequently is considered job hopping. A pattern of holding a job for less than one to two years before moving on to the next may be viewed as a questionable practice. Hiring managers will undoubtedly raise an eyebrow if they see multiple jobs in a few years. 

The practice of leaving a position after only a few months or even a year can be a potential red flag for future employment. But there’s more at play here.

Why is nurse job hopping even a consideration?

A revealing study in PubMed illustrates that high nurse turnover is a significant concern for employers. Surprisingly, the nurse respondents' reasons for leaving a job are not due to career advancement opportunities, with job dissatisfaction and home responsibilities coming up as the leading causes of turnover. And because of these and other factors, nurse job hopping is on the rise.

With the demand for nurses at an all-time high, does a potential employer even care if you have changed jobs frequently as long as they can fill the open position? In the past, nurse job hopping was equated to career suicide. However, with the current nursing shortage, employers can be more likely to disregard this aspect of a resume to more easily fill open roles

Although it may seem that our current nursing shortage is a novel problem, history shows that nurse job market trends come and go. Nursing jobs may be a dime a dozen at present, but in a few years, opportunities may dry up. If that happens, a resume that reflects job hopping could be a hindrance to finding work. 

The bottom line is that employers tend to shy away from hiring nurses who repeatedly leave jobs if there are more dedicated applicants.

Cons of nurse job hopping

Although you may have plenty of viable reasons to change nursing jobs frequently, a potential employer will likely perceive that you are the problem. The unfortunate fact is that numerous nurse career transitions are viewed negatively. Valued employee attributes such as loyalty and trust are undermined when your resume is packed with many short-tenured jobs.

Other disadvantages of nurse job hopping can be:

  • Bad references and recommendations
  • Poor career progression
  • Decreased opportunity for promotion
  • Weakened peer relationships 
  • Less chance of hire

Be sure to plan to answer some tough questions during a job interview about your track record of hopping from one job to another.

Pros of nurse job hopping

Overall, employers prefer to see a history of a few years in each job to illustrate your dedication to the organization and ability to work through challenges.

However, the personal benefits of nursing job changes can outweigh the negatives. 

Pros of nurse job hopping can be:

  • Diverse nursing experience with exposure to new techniques
  • Exposure to diverse populations and environments
  • Increased adaptability
  • Opportunity to negotiate a higher salary
  • Less chance of burn-out
  • Alignment with current seasons in life and career
  • Better work-life-balance
  • Easier to pursue career direction change or advancement

Considerations before changing nursing jobs

We all have personal reasons for changing nursing positions. By assessing your current priorities, you’ll get a clearer picture of the direction you need to take. However, don’t allow your short-term needs to obscure long-term objectives.

For example, if you seek better pay, frequent job changes may allow your income to grow incrementally. But in the long run, job-hopping may preclude you from career advancement into management or higher-wage positions.

By weighing the pros and cons of a job change — both short and long-term — you may be able to determine what direction is best for you. Also, remember that the industry demands for nurses may shift, and you’ll want to shape your work history favorably for future hire. This tip is especially important for nurses who have many years left in their careers.

Try to work through challenges and conflict, employing open communication about your concerns. However, if your mental health or nursing license is at stake due to ongoing work issues, it may be time to move in a new direction.

Before deciding to leave a job, it’s wise to seek counsel from experienced nurses and mentors. Their valued input may offer solutions to your current situation. Heeding expert advice may help guide your career to long-term success. 

Key takeaways 

There are many excellent reasons to change nursing positions, such as a move and career advancement. Changing nursing jobs with intention can be a benefit to your nursing career. The key word here is intention. 

By making strategic decisions in your career, you may reap the many benefits of our diverse profession. Considering your unique situation with an eye to the future should lead to sound decisions about job moves. This reflective approach should preserve your love of nursing and improve the advancement of your career.

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