Covid Burnout in Nurses

The pandemic has driven out so many healthcare workers that the number has become a crisis level, according to U.S. News.

Employee Benefit News states, “…the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 500,000 seasoned nurses are expected to retire between now and the end of 2022, creating a shortage of 1.1 million nurses.”

Chelsea McNulty, a graduate from Sacred Heart University’s nursing program said, “Yes, I am worried about the shortage of nurses. I have also personally noticed the shortages at work such as short staffing and nurses calling out.”

Sophomore nursing student Alyssa Merk said, “This national crisis of nurse shortages makes me feel anxious about going into the healthcare field, but not in a negative way. I want to learn everything I can and make sure I’m prepared. If anything, I’m anxious because I want to be able to help right now.”

Others comment on their worries regarding the field.

“I’m nervous that the field is changing in a negative way. My mom is a nurse and worked through the pandemic. Seeing her burnout firsthand was not only sad, but also angering because she was not getting the support she needed,” said junior nursing student Emma Tesler.

“My biggest fear is that after all of my hard work in nursing school, I’m going to get into the healthcare field and I’ll burnout so fast because I won’t have the support I need,” Tesler continued.

Some say that the treatment of nurses adds to this issue.

“It does not surprise me that the shortage of nurses is considered a national crisis because the way that nurses are treated in some places is just awful,” said McNulty.

According to U.S. News, during the pandemic nurses faced extended shifts, which could include working 24 hours a day in uncomfortable personal protective equipment and worrying about being exposed to COVID-19 themselves.

Other hospitals made it a priority to communicate throughout the pandemic.

According to U.S. News, Dr. Redonda Miller, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital explained that within hospitals and health systems, working together has been crucial during the pandemic to help decrease burnout.

“Asking staff what they needed was so important to learn what was working and what was not. Staff want to know that their voice is heard,” said Miller, according to U.S. News.

“I did not know the true level of burnout when I started, but shortly after I figured it out and started to experience it myself,” said McNulty.

According to Employee Benefit News, “76% of nurses feel the same exhaustion. Of those who walk away from their profession, 59% cite insufficient staffing levels as their top reason for quitting, 56% the demanding nature of their job, 54% the emotional toll, and 51% because they don’t feel supported by their managers, according to a Mckinsey survey.”

Many comment on their hope for this issue to be solved in the future.

Junior Tori Paul said, “I could never be a nurse with this level of burnout. It takes a special person with a lot of motivation. A lot of my friends have desires to be nurses and are in nursing school, so I hope that in a few years the problem will be fixed.”

Additionally, EBN reported how nursing schools typically graduate 188,000 new nurses each year, but by their second year in the workforce, 33% leave the bedside due to burnout, according to data from a nursing agency, IntelyCare.

“The number of nursing students going into the field soon may help fix this problem temporarily, but once they realize what nursing is really like, they most likely will leave the bedside,” said McNulty.

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