The Impact of COVID-19 on Nurses

NursingApril 08, 2021

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic hit the United States, and no career has been impacted more than that of our healthcare workers — especially nurses. Nurses have always played a vital role in our healthcare system, but COVID-19 put them on the frontlines, helping save patients’ lives. 

The vaccine has brought hope to many that the global crisis will finally start to subside, but the year has been a difficult one. To determine the impact the coronavirus has had on nurses, the American Nurses Foundation conducted the Pulse on the Nation's Nurses COVID-19 Survey Series: Year One COVID-19 Impact Assessment in February 2021. The comprehensive survey was created to gain insights into the overall mental health and well-being, financial, and professional impact of the pandemic on U.S. nurses. Here’s what it revealed.

Overall outlook

The first question asked nurses, “Given everything you experienced during the pandemic this past year, how are you doing?” The average rating was 5.7 out of 10, with 0 being “not good at all” and 10 being “very good.”

The second question was, “Given everything you experienced during the pandemic this past year, how optimistic are you about the future?” The average response was 6.2. 

While the numbers are similar, the slight uptick when looking toward the future is positive as it indicates that nurses are seeing improvements and are happy to be moving forward.

Mental health 

Next, nurses were asked about any mental health symptoms they’d had over the past 14 days:

  • 51 percent were exhausted
  • 43 percent felt overwhelmed
  • 37 percent were irritable
  • 36 percent were anxious and unable to relax
  • 30 percent admitted they were sad

While 24 percent of nurses surveyed said they had sought professional mental health support, 76 percent had not. The reason they gave for not seeking help was that “I haven’t felt I needed it,” “I feel I should manage stress on my own,” or “lack of time.”

However, nurses did derive some personal satisfaction during the past year. For example:

  • 32 percent said their work has meaning
  • 28 percent felt confident in their ability to handle things
  • 23 percent were determined
  • And 20 percent felt resilient

Concerns outside of work

While a nurse’s job is demanding, outside situations can also add to their stress load. The top-four reasons for concern were:

  • 41 percent said they were concerned about family finances and debt
  • 35 percent were stressed over politics
  • 34 percent were concerned about the economy
  • And 32 percent were caring for extended family 

Looking ahead

Finally, nurses were asked “What will better prepare you for future health crisis or pandemics?” The top answer was having consistent and better executed national health policies and public intervention plans, with 74 percent or nurses agreeing. Other popular answers include effective leadership communication, increased staffing, and continuing education in disaster preparation. 

As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and, hopefully, the insights shared by nurses can be used to better handle future emergencies as they arise. In the meantime, nurses continue to provide care and comfort to patients everywhere. If you’re considering joining the medical field and are interested in pursuing a career in nursing, consider starting your education at Fortis. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our Admissions Team Represetantives.