Health Care

About 100K nurses left workforce amid COVID-19 burnout, stress: survey

About 100,000 nurses quit due to stress and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, and another 800,000 said they intend to leave by 2027, according to a new survey from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

There are about 6.2 million registered nurses in the U.S., according to the survey. Of those surveyed, 1 in 5 said they plan to leave the industry or retire in the next five years.

Nurses who are older and more experienced are more likely to envision themselves leaving the industry soon, the survey found. More than 600,000 nurses with more than 10 years of experience see themselves leaving the industry due to stress by 2027, compared to just under 200,000 nurses with less than 10 years experience.

A majority of nurses, 62 percent, said their workload increased in the pandemic, and about 50 percent said they felt emotionally drained at work. Just under half said they felt fatigued or burnt-out, 49 and 45 percent, respectively.

Workforce fatigue has been a rallying cry for nursing unions in the last year, resulting in multiple large strikes nationwide in recent years. A large-scale strike of nurses in New York City earlier this year called for better pay and working conditions. 

“The hospitals’ treatment of these nurses is proof that all their words of adulation for their healthcare heroes during the pandemic were hollow,” New York AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said in a statement during the New York City strikes. “It is time for the hospitals to treat these nurses fairly, with the dignity and respect they deserve, to ensure nurses can get back to serving their communities by providing superior care to their patients.”

That strike ended with a tentative deal guaranteeing increased staff ratios, as nurses complained that they were stretched too thin by low staffing numbers.

A slew of strikes hit California hospitals last year, including an 8,000-strong strike at Sutter Health facilities and a 5,000-nurse strike at Stanford’s health facilities last April.

About 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities area went on strike for three days last September as well.

Tags labor workforce

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