ICYMI: New Research Finds Nearly 100,000 Nurses Left Workforce During Pandemic

Study demonstrates the need for investments in addressing nursing shortages

Workforce; Research and Data

​In case you missed it, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) released a new study titled “Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Burnout & Stress Among U.S. Nurses,” that found approximately 100,000 registered nurses (RNs) left the workforce due to stress and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. NCSBN’s research is “considered to be the most comprehensive and only research in existence, uncovering the alarming data points which have far reaching implications for the health care system at large and for patient populations.” 
The study also found:

  • Another 610,388 RNs reported an “intent to leave” the health care workforce by 2027 due to stress, burnout or retirement.
  • Nearly 200,000 additional RNs younger than 40 years old reported intent to leave.
  • Altogether, one-fifth of RNs across the country are projected to leave the health care workforce.

Another report released last year also raised the alarm on the growing nursing shortage. According to McKinsey & Company, the country may experience a shortage of RNs between 200,000 and 450,000 by 2025. The report estimates that "the United States would need to more than double the number of new graduates entering and staying in the nursing workforce every year for the next three years straight” to meet health care demand. 
The health care industry is facing significant labor shortages, particularly nursing homes which have experienced the worst job loss of any health care sector during the pandemic. Nursing homes lost 210,000 workers from February 2020 to December 2022.
Amid this growing nationwide nursing shortage, the Biden administration is expected to implement a federal staffing mandate for nursing homes without resources or workforce recruitment programs. Nursing homes cannot hire more staff if the nurses aren’t there. A blanket, unfunded mandate will do nothing to address the lack of trained nurses or encourage these health care professionals to work in long term care.  
The American Health Care Association (AHCA) laid out comprehensive solutions to bolster the workforce, including nurses, in the Care For Our Seniors Act, including:

  • loan forgiveness for new graduates who work in long term care,
  • assistance programs for affordable housing, housing down payments and childcare,
  • direct incentives to states that invest in nursing education programs, and
  • career ladder scholarships that would encourage staff to become RNs, among others.

Addressing the nursing shortage and reducing burnout requires a supportive approach to recruit more caregivers to the field, not mandates. Lawmakers must act now and invest in rebuilding the pipeline of caregivers that our growing elderly population needs.
Read the full NCSBN study HERE.
Learn more about the Care For Our Seniors Act HERE.