Survey Shows Nurse Burnout Has Soared During Pandemic

January 4, 2021 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Engagement & Morale

Last modified January 19, 2021

The Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report 2020 received responses from 10,424 nurses and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in the United States and shows that in every group, more nurses rated themselves as very or somewhat burned out compared with the pre-pandemic period. When asked to rate their burnout before the pandemic and 6 months into it, there were some reported levels that in some cases have quadrupled.

It’s important to note that survey authors reported those burnout numbers in the summer, before the influx of patients in the fall began overwhelming hospitals nationwide. Most respondents, by the end of the summer, had cared for COVID-19 patients. CRNAs were the group most likely to have treated COVID-19 patients (73%) and CNSs were the least likely (38%). Nurses working in inpatient hospital care were the most likely to see COVID-19 patients (76%) followed by nurses at retail clinics (59%).

Roughly one third of nurses say COVID-19 is causing a drop in their career satisfaction. RNs, CRNAs, and nurse midwives agreed with that assessment at a rate of 35%. Shortages of personal protective equipment were well-documented nationwide, and most RNs, LPNs, NPs, and nurse midwives in this report said they did not have adequate PPE at some point in the pandemic.

Nurses were then asked to rank their biggest fears associated with working during the pandemic, and at the top of the list was carrying the virus back to their families. Becoming infected with the virus and lack of adequate PPE also ranked high in biggest fears.

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