Why Well-Being

Facts and figures to bolster the case to prioritize well-being

Nurse well-being is multivariable, as are the impacts of well-being challenges to an employer. Each organization may be at different levels in establishing wellness as an objective or incorporating wellness into the business plan. This section offers evidence-based references that may be helpful as individuals and organizations build a business case to allocate resources to address nurse well-being as an integral strategy in meeting other organizational goals.

The Harm of Not Prioritizing Wellness


  • Losing an RN is estimated to cost organizations 120 to 130 percent of their annual salary. (1, 2)
  • Nationally, it is estimated that the annual burnout-related turnover costs are $9 billion for nurses. (3)
  • Researchers note that $8 million annually is wasted on leadership vacancies in healthcare organizations. (4)
  • Indirect costs occur via higher rates of medical errors, absenteeism, and lower job productivity. (2, 3, 5)


  • Burnout is associated with a decrease in occupational well-being and an increase in absenteeism, turnover, and illness. (2, 3)
  • With fewer nurses, patients have fewer advocates, further harming efforts to address health inequities. (2)
  • 68% of Oregon nurses reported exhaustion and burnout in a survey conducted by OCN in the Spring of 2022. (6)
  • Burnout threatens patient safety. Unaddressed, organizations can expect higher rates of medical errors, hospital-acquired infections, mortality, failure to rescue, re-admission, and longer lengths of stay. (1, 2, 3, 5)
  • A significant correlation between burnout and patient satisfaction exists. (2, 5, 7)
  • The clinical work environment is a social determinant of health. (3, 8)


  • Moral distress or injury may arise. (9)
  • Public trust may erode. (3)
  • Delays in care and diagnosis of patients may worsen health outcomes and increase health disparities. (3)
  • Healthcare quality and safety may suffer. (2)
  • Risk of not having healthy or enough RNs. (2)
  • Additional strain will be added to remaining staff. (10)
  • Work environments may perpetually worsen. (2, 10)

The Benefits of Prioritizing Wellness

  • For every dollar invested in employee wellness, the return on investment is $3 to $4. (11)
  • Clinicians who perceive they practice in a healthcare system that is supportive of their well-being tend to be in better physical and mental health, more engaged, and have higher levels of job satisfaction. (4, 11)
  • Addressing burnout improves patient outcomes and decreases the costs of healthcare. (10)
  • A wellness culture naturally aligns with other organizational goals to improve quality care and reduce costs. (10)
  • Intentionally building strong leadership is essential to ensure that work environments are healthy and staff well-being is front and center in the organization. (4)
  • Retention increases, lowering turnover costs. (12)
  • Staff will feel empowered to engage in strategies that can improve patient safety, quality of care, and build trust. (3)


  1. Schlak, A. E., Rosa, W. E., Rushton, C. H., Poghosyan, L., Root, M. C., & McHugh, M. D. (2022). An expanded institutional- and national-level blueprint to address nurse burnout and moral suffering amid the evolving pandemic. Nursing Management, 53(1), 16–27. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.numa.0000805032.15402.b3
  2. Dyrbye, L. N., Shanafelt, T. D., Sinsky, C. A., Cipriano, P. F., Bhatt, J., Ommaya, A., West, C. P., & Meyers, D. (2017). Burnout Among Health Care Professionals: A Call to Explore and Address This Underrecognized Threat to Safe, High-Quality Care. NAM Perspectives, 7(7). https://doi.org/10.31478/201707b
  3. Addressing Health Worker Burnout: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Thriving Health Workforce. (2022). U.S. Department of Health And Human Services Office of The U.S. Surgeon General. https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/priorities/health-worker-burnout/index.html
  4. Medeiros, M. (2022). Nurse manager succession planning for unit health and well-being. Nursing Management, 53(6), 41–43. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.numa.0000831436.38442.a8
  5. AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence (2nd ed.). (2016). American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. https://www.aacn.org/WD/HWE/Docs/HWEStandards.pdf
  6. Oregon Center for Nursing. (2022, April). RN Well-Being Mental Health Survey. https://oregoncenterfornursing.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/RNW-Survey-2022-Infographic_Web.jpg
  7. Ogilvie, J. (2020, August 31). Burnout Among Health Care Professionals: A Call to Explore and Address This Underrecognized Threat to Safe, High-Quality Care. National Academy of Medicine. https://nam.edu/burnout-among-health-care-professionals-a-call-to-explore-and-address-this-underrecognized-threat-to-safe-high-quality-care/
  8. Amberson, T., Graves, J. M., & Sears, J. M. (2022). Implementing the Total Worker Health Program in a Shared Governance Context. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 48(4), 342–347. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jen.2022.05.004
  9. Hughes, M. T., & Rushton, C. H. (2022). Ethics and Well-Being: The Health Professions and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Academic Medicine, 97(3S), S98–S103. https://doi.org/10.1097/acm.0000000000004524
  10. National Academy of Medicine. 2022. National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being. Dzau, V. J., Kirch, D., Murthy, V., & Nasca, T. (Eds.). NAM Special Publication. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26744
  11. Melnyk, B. M., Kelly, S. A., Stephens, J., Dhakal, K., McGovern, C., Tucker, S., Hoying, J., McRae, K., Ault, S., Spurlock, E., & Bird, S. B. (2020). Interventions to Improve Mental Health, Well-Being, Physical Health, and Lifestyle Behaviors in Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Health Promotion, 34(8), 929–941. https://doi.org/10.1177/0890117120920451
  12. Pélissier, C., Charbotel, B., Fassier, J., Fort, E., & Fontana, L. (2018). Nurses’ Occupational and Medical Risks Factors of Leaving the Profession in Nursing Homes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(9), 1850. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15091850