The COVID-19 crisis has pushed many Americans beyond their normal stressors, perhaps none more so than nurses. The job of a nurse isn’t an easy one even in normal circumstances. Nurses already face burnout and workplace stress that impacts their mental health, and the last few months have amplified these issues. At Incredible Health, our mission is to help nurses live better lives. Therefore, we wanted to better understand the pressures nurses have faced during this crisis, so we asked them and examined our own data.
We surveyed our member nurses and received more than 400 responses to questions about hospitals’ preparedness to deal with COVID-19, availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and what kind of support nurses have received from their employers. In addition to the survey, we took a look at our own data to understand the current hiring landscape at hospitals.
What we found was overwhelming: it has perhaps never been more difficult to be a nurse in America than it is today. One finding was particularly dramatic: only 2% of nurse respondents said their facility was very prepared to deal with COVID-19. Over a quarter (26%) said their facility was unprepared or very unprepared.
The study also told us that the lack of protective gear is rampant. Almost two-thirds (62%) of nurses reported that their facilities do not have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to properly protect them from COVID-19. Well over half (59%) said they do not feel adequately supported by their facility to deal with the added stress of COVID-19.
We are being thrown into different units and stressful situations to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients, and we aren’t even being provided standard procedure masks for patient and provider protection on the floors.”
“You must have a positive COVID-19 patient to actually get an N95 mask.” Another nurse reported that, at their hospital, nurses have to use recycled masks and gowns, which irritate their skin.
One nurse summarized the lack of support they feel at their facility by saying the administrators are “more worried about budget and the bottom line than employees. They are not proactively supporting or supplying staff to adequately care for patients.”
We have some tips on what hospitals can do right now to support nurses during COVID-19.
When we looked at our own data to see how COVID-19 has impacted hiring, we found that the most in-demand jobs were in the emergency department (ED) and the intensive care unit (ICU): Twice as many ED nurses were hired on Incredible Health in March compared to January and February, and 50% more ICU nurses were hired during that same timeframe. The surge in hiring for ED and ICU nurses is married with a drop in demand for roles in operating rooms (OR), labor and delivery units (L&D), NICUs, and Pediatrics and Cath Labs.
This should not come as a surprise as many hospitals have paused elective procedures. In “normal” times, Incredible Health’s software screening and custom matching algorithms enable a record-breaking speed to hire of less than 30 days compared to the 90 day national average. The pandemic has accelerated the speed even further. Speed to hire increased by 24%, going from 25 days in January and February to 19 days in March because of the immediate need for ED and ICU nurses. Also, hospitals and hiring managers are more fully embracing phone and video interviews on the Incredible Health platform, instead of requiring slower in person interviews to make hiring decisions.
Lastly, about one-fifth (19%) of nurse respondents said they have been reassigned from their typical units. One nurse said there have been changes in the way nursing care is delivered with no consistency, extra pay or mental health support. We also found that nurses are picking up additional shifts with more than a third (34%) of nurse respondents saying they have added shifts to help with the demand of COVID-19 patients.
Overall, the data tell us that nursing has in fact become harder and more stressful, and that many nurses are performing outside of their comfort zone. From not feeling safe in their workplace to being thrown into new roles, nurses deserve all the support we can give them. They are our heroes every day, before, during, and after the pandemic.
If you’re a nurse who is feeling overwhelmed or overworked during COVID-19, we’re here to help support you. Check out some of our recent resources at the bottom of this post to help with stress, put a smile on your face and even assist with job hunting.
To see the full data report visit here.
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