Silver Spring, MD – As we mark one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the American Nurses Foundation released the results of a new survey of 22,000 nurses nationwide. The survey covered pressing topics facing the nursing profession today, including mental health, vaccines, finances, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and more.
“This pandemic has illuminated nurses’ critical role in health care and our economy,” said American Nurses Foundation Executive Director Kate Judge. “Through these surveys, we’re able to better understand what our nation’s frontline providers need to continue caring for patients and our communities – and provide solutions.”
The pandemic continues to take a toll on nurses’ mental health, particularly those early in their career. Among nurses aged 34 years and younger, 81% report feeling exhausted, 71% report feeling overwhelmed and 65% report being anxious or unable to relax. While nurses 55 and older reported some strain on their mental health, less than half reported feeling exhausted (47%), overwhelmed (37%) or anxious or unable to relax (30%).
“Nurses’ sustained exhaustion, stress and depression is a hit to their overall well-being and also takes a toll on our health system," said Judge. “This is especially so when you look at the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on nurses who are early in their careers. As the future of our nursing profession, it is critical we give Millennials and Gen Z nurses the tools and time to recover and rebuild.”
While a majority of nurses surveyed have received the vaccine (70%), barriers still exist. Of the 30% of nurses surveyed who have not been vaccinated, nearly half (46%) identify as Black or African American. Overall, a quarter of nurses surveyed reported they are undecided about receiving the vaccine. Respondents’ reasons for not choosing vaccination included being fearful of short- or long-term side effects and not having enough information about the vaccines.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Only 73% report they have adequate PPE at this time. Nurses continue to indicate issues related to PPE, with 33% of nurses reporting that there is no communication plan around PPE inventory at their practice site.
Concerns about finances are also still a factor. For nurses, the issue of family finances and debt is a top concern, with 41% reporting this as an issue they worry about outside of work. One in five nurses say they are financially worse-off now than prior to the COVID-19 outbreak (19%).
Since the start of the pandemic, the American Nurses Foundation has worked to address this problem, providing $2.6 million in financial aid to over 2,000 nurses across 45 states.
State of the Profession
While a majority of nurses report they do not intend to leave the profession (85%) or their current position (60%), health and well-being has become a top concern for those who do intend to leave nursing. Among nurses who indicated they intend to leave their current position, top reasons included work negatively affecting their health and well-being (47%) and insufficient staffing (45%). Findings also highlighted the toll of the current nursing shortage during the pandemic, with 41% of nurses who say they plan to leave the profession citing insufficient staffing as a reason. This number is even higher among nurses who treat COVID-19 patients directly (48%).
“Prior to the pandemic we faced a worldwide nursing shortage with a projected need to fill more than one million nursing positions in the U.S. by 2022,” said Judge. “Nurses’ well-being and mental health – especially among Millennials and Gen Z – are of the upmost importance, and we will do all we can to ensure they receive the help they need.”
In the U.S., findings from this survey and others by the Foundation will be leveraged to provide strategic insight for the profession, employers, educators and policymakers as the Foundation, ANA and partner organizations work together to expand nursing roles and explore new, nurse-led models of care to meet the healthcare needs of consumers.
Data were collected through the Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Series: COVID-19 Impact Assessment Survey administered by the American Nurses Foundation to gather insights and experiences of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between January 19 to February 16, 2021, 22,316 nurses responded to the survey. Previous Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Survey Series findings related to mental health and wellness, vaccines, PPE, and financial impact and other factors impacting nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic are also available online. All data gathered will be used to inform decisions about how to best support nurses during and after this public health crisis.
About the American Nurses Foundation
The American Nurses Foundation is the charitable and philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association (ANA), with the mission to transform the nation’s health through the power of nursing. The Foundation supports research, education, and scholarships, which improve health, wellness, and patient care. For more information visit www.nursingworld.org/foundation.