New survey shows just how much COVID-19 will affect future of nursing

Common signs of nursing burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on many — but it’s hit nurses especially hard.

Health care workers around the country have worked around the clock to provide patient care, and it’s made an impact on what the profession will look like in the future.

The results of a new survey show that hard work has taken a toll.

Health care staffing company Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. conducted a survey with Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. The results pinpoint the source of present stressors health care workers face. It also shows areas for improvement in nursing satisfaction, career outlook and mental well-being.

Both entities collected 570 responses between May and June of 2021.

Results show almost 37% of nurses say they’re overworked, stressed and/or burned out. Just 32% of nurses are very/completely satisfied with their job. Before the pandemic, that rate was 52%. The desire to leave the profession is dramatically higher now than before the pandemic for 29% of nurses. The nursing shortage and inadequate staffing levels are cited as the main top factors to low satisfaction. Nurses — 66% — have also expressed some degree of thought toward leaving the profession.

“On one hand, this research shows us that the pressures for nurses under COVID-19 are significant and likely long-lasting,” said registered nurse Henry “Hank” Drummond, Ph.D., senior vice president, chief clinical officer at Cross Country Healthcare, in a press release. “On the other hand, the data is very clear in outlining specific areas that we can improve, and Cross Country Healthcare is making every effort to support our nurses by addressing these challenges.”

There are areas of improvement, however.

Integrating new staffing approaches and increased wages are two changes that nurses believe would have a positive impact.

Of those surveyed, 97% agree and 81% completely agree that increased pay and other incentives would attract and retain nurses. Surveyed nurses —85% — believe improvements must be made in cross-training to adapt to crisis events. The majority of nurses — 85% — strongly believe a nationwide license would have been a great benefit during the pandemic.

“Our nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system and if too many leave or decide not to pursue a career in nursing, the consequences would be catastrophic,” said Safiya George, PhD, APRN-BC, FAANP, dean & professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. “Our nurses need solutions, many of them outlined in this research, that will ease burnout and reduce stress, as well as help them enjoy long-term and satisfying careers.”

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