Study shows nurses’ second jobs could be tied to COVID-19 transmission

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Low wages and limited hours have led 6% of nurses and other health care workers to seek secondary employment.

But their additional revenue streams may be linked to the transmission of the coronavirus, according to a recent study.

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Dartmouth College’s Kristin E. Smith, Ph.D., and her colleagues reported that second jobs of nurses, personal care aides, nursing aides, licensed practical nurses and licensed nurses led many to move across health settings from their first jobs to their second.

The study, which was published last month in the journal Medical Care Research and Review, found that for personal care and nursing aides, 15% of second jobs are in other essential occupations.

The team used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 to 2019 Current Population Survey.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic is shining the spotlight on inequalities throughout our society, particularly in healthcare systems, where we are now seeing real-life implications for loved ones in nursing homes, who are such a vulnerable population,” Smith said in a press release.

Among the findings were that nurses with children and Black nurses were more likely to hold second jobs than white nurses. There were also racial disparities among direct care workers, with white workers being more likely to have second jobs than Asian, American Indian and Alaskan Native workers. When work hours were excluded from the analysis, Black direct care workers were found to be less likely to have a second job.

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Female and married nurses were less likely to obtain a second job and working lower hours was most strongly associated with nurses holding a second job.

Smith and her colleagues said federal and state-level initiatives could help correct the issue of low wages by boosting salaries through bonuses that are higher than unemployment benefits.

They concluded that doing so could reduce the need for essential health care workers to get second jobs and decrease exposure and transmission of COVID-19.

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