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Nurse Stress

Report: Nearly 100,000 Nurses Quit During Pandemic

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

About 100,00 registered nurses left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and hundreds of thousands more could leave the profession by 2027. The top reasons for the exodus are stress, burnout, and retirement, according to research from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The NCSBN based their analysis on a subset of the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Study, a survey of U.S. nurses conducted every two years. The NCSBN noted nurses felt emotionally drained (50.8%), used up (56.4%), fatigued (49.7%), burned out (45.1%), or at the end of their rope (29.4%) “a few times a week” or “every day.” Nearly two-thirds reported their workloads increased during the pandemic.

“The pandemic has stressed nurses to leave the workforce and has expedited an intent to leave in the near future, which will become a greater crisis and threaten patient populations if solutions are not enacted immediately,” said Maryann Alexander, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief officer of nursing regulation for NCSBN. “There is an urgent opportunity today for healthcare systems, policymakers, regulators, and academic leaders to coalesce and enact solutions that will spur positive systemic evolution to address these challenges and maximize patient protection in care into the future.”

The National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers has proposed the National Nursing Workforce Center Act, which would establish a grant program to support public-private partnerships that could boost the nursing profession. In March, federal lawmakers introduced this act, which would create a two-year pilot program through the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“Our nurses went above and beyond to care for Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now suffering from burnout, exhaustion, and unsustainable schedules due to the nursing workforce shortage. Nurses play a vital role in protecting public health and deserve our full support,” said U.S. Rep. Young Kim, R-CA, a cosponsor of the House version of the legislation. “The National Nursing Workforce Center Act will take important, targeted steps to help stabilize and strengthen our nursing workforce.”

The American Hospital Association has offered several solutions, including more federal investment in education and training, better protections against violence, expanded funding for the National Health Service Corps and the National Nurse Corps, and expedition of visas for foreign-trained nurses.

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Hospital Employee Health.