Beyond Burnout: Nurses Suffer From PTSD as Spiraling Work Demands Force Them to Sacrifice Their Mental Well-Being

nurse burnout

Exhausted by long shifts on understaffed floors, America’s nurses are suffering moral injury from working the frontlines of the pandemic. 56% of nursing professionals are now putting their job before their own well-being. In this report from the IntelyCare Research Group, we examine how the working conditions during COVID have impacted the mental health of nursing professionals as part of a study that found that 41% are considering leaving the profession for good.

At a time when the country faces a potential shortfall of 1.1 million nurses, the pandemic has brought the demand on nurses to a whole other level. High levels of acuity and patient deaths, long working hours, and shortages of staff have combined with the inherent risks of treating COVID-19 infections to cause significant mental and physical harm to nurses.

Large portions of the nursing population feel unsupported in their mental health at work and lack overall support from their system’s senior management. While a majority of nurses do have some form of access to mental healthcare through their employer, just a small percentage use it.

Nurses are the primary factor affecting patient outcomes. When a loved one dies, it is often the nurses that share the devastating news with the bereaved family. Yet well over half of nurses report they are not regularly offered grief counseling to deal with the trauma.

The mounting pressure of understaffing amplifies the burden on nurses and further denies them the time or ability to find care or even a break to process and heal. Many did not take a vacation in 2021 and had not taken a day or weekend off in over a month. The lack of time away from the bedside robs nurses of their personal lives, as many prioritize their job above friends, family, marriages, finances, and their own health.

In this inaugural report from the IntelyCare Research Group, we examine the current state of the mental health of today’s nursing workforce and how the challenges nurses face are built into the system they serve.

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