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It can be hard to quit any job, but with so much pressure on nurses the past several years, deciding how to leave might feel particularly difficult. Writing a professional resignation letter can help you take the next step.
If you feel burned out or frustrated by staffing and resource shortages, you’re not alone. More than half of health care workers reported feeling burned out in a 2021 survey by KFF, a health policy nonprofit, and the Washington Post. But it’s best to leave your grievances out of your formal letter of resignation. Instead, write a short resignation letter by keeping things positive and brief.
6 elements of a nursing resignation letter
Ahead of writing your resignation letter, review any aspects of your contract or workplace policies that give specific guidance for quitting your job. After you’ve done that, write a letter that includes these elements:
1. State that you’re leaving, and provide the date of your last day. Your union contract or workplace policies may require you to give adequate notice to remain in good standing and receive any sick time or vacation payouts. Two weeks’ notice is common, but a month or more may be standard where you work.
2. Explain your next move, if you want. This is optional, says Emily Frank, a Denver-based career counselor and coach who helps clients through her private practice, the Career Catalyst. “I think people sometimes feel a little like they have to defend their choice. There's nothing to defend.”
3. Show your appreciation. If you learned valuable skills on the job or enjoyed the opportunities available to you, saying so can go a long way in maintaining a good rapport. If you can, be specific.
4. Offer to help with the transition. This is especially important if you have additional responsibilities beyond patient care that will need to be reassigned.
5. Provide contact information. Do so if you want to invite your colleagues to keep in touch with you after you’ve moved on.
6. Sign your letter. If you will be providing a printed copy of your letter, leave space at the bottom to sign your name. This could be required for your employer’s records. Even if it’s not, it gives the letter a professional finish.
After you’ve drafted your letter, meet with your supervisor to give your notice face-to-face. Frank recommends bringing a copy of your resignation letter to the meeting.
Then follow up by emailing a copy of your resignation letter to your supervisor and anyone else in your management team that should be aware of your decision. If your workplace has policies about also notifying your human resources department, send your notice to that office, as well.
Nurse resignation letter example
Here’s a nurse resignation letter example to follow:
Dear [your supervisor’s full name],
Please accept this letter as formal notice of my resignation from my role as [your title] with [employer’s name]. My last day will be [date], which is [number of weeks] weeks from now.
Thank you for the opportunity to learn [one or two lessons from your time in the role]. I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent here among people who truly care about their patients.
In the time I have left, I hope to be as helpful as possible in ensuring a smooth transition. If the need arises, you can contact me at [email address] or [phone number].
[Your printed name]