Survey: More than half of nurses sacrificing mental health for job

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Nearly half are considering leaving the nursing profession for good

There is no shortage of surveys asking nurses how the pandemic has affected them. The latest, conducted by IntelyCare Research Group, examined how the working conditions during COVID have affected the mental health of nurses.

The results aren’t pretty, but they also aren’t surprising.

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A majority of the 500 nurses surveyed — 56% — said they are sacrificing their mental health for their job. Of those, 41% said they are considering leaving the nursing profession for good.

“At a time when the country faces a potential shortfall of 1.1 million nurses, the pandemic has brought the demand on nurses to a whole other level,” IntelyCare wrote. “High levels of acuity and patient deaths, long working hours, and shortages of staff have combined with the inherent risks of treating COVID-19 infections to cause significant mental and physical harm to nurses.”

The survey also found 37% of nurses don’t feel their employer supports their mental health, and 41% responded they lack overall support from the system’s senior management. Only 10% of respondents said they take advantage of mental health care provided by their company, even though 72% of them said they have access to some form of it.

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“Our nurses are not experiencing fatigue or burnout, they are experiencing significant moral injury and critical distress to their emotional foundation,” said Rebecca Love, IntelyCare’s chief clinical officer, who is also a nurse and advocate for nurses. “We know that most of what is being offered to the front-lines in terms of whole-person support does not address the moral injury that nurses are experiencing.”

Other findings in the survey include:

  • 61% have had been told by a family member or friend they work too much
  • 44% miss important family milestones to be a nurse
  • 68% have missed social events for work in the past month

“Many (nurses) did not take a vacation in 2021 and had not taken a day or weekend off in over a month,” IntelyCare wrote. “The lack of time away from the bedside robs nurses of their personal lives, as many prioritize their job above friends, family, marriages, finances, and their own health.”

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