Nursing has always been associated with burnout due to the mentally and physically demanding environments, long working hours, and a recent nursing shortage that has worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Recently, a study found nurses are tired of current working conditions and thinking of leaving the job amid the shortage.
In the study, conducted by the American Nurses Foundation in February, 57% of the 12,581 surveyed nurses reported feeling "exhausted" over a period of two weeks, 43% reported feeling "burned out," and only 20% felt valued.
Karl Minges, the chair of the department of population health and leadership at the University of New Haven, believes that it is essential to reassess the root causes of the nursing shortage and consider ways to mitigate this problem.
"We definitely need to be rethinking about what's creating this shortage and what are ways that we can alleviate this problem," said Karl Minges, chair of the department of population health and leadership at the University of New Haven.
Minges suggests that factors such as workplace safety, patient behavior, and nurses' perceived lack of respect contribute to the problem. He also notes that some hospitals have increased nurse-to-patient ratios, resulting in more patients per nurse.
According to the American Nurses Association, in 2022, 60,000 qualified nursing applicants were turned away from nursing schools due to the lack of classroom space. Minges states that the problem is not the lack of interest in nursing but rather the shortage of nursing graduates, which will only worsen as more nurses leave the profession.
This comes as new reports point to a nursing shortage in the country until at least 2029, with an estimated 194,500 job openings for registered nurses each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, nurses are often viewed as a cost rather than an asset since they cannot bill patients like doctors can, leading hospitals to furlough or lay off nurses when cost-cutting is necessary.
Even though pre-pandemic studies show that more nurses lead to better patient outcomes, one in ten hospitals reported high vacancy rates among nurses, while now, it is three in five. This nursing shortage existed before the pandemic and has only been exacerbated by it.