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NEW SURVEY: COVID cases are plummeting, but pandemic stress still hits hard for nurses

11 News this Morning at 6 am
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 8:28 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2022 at 9:31 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - COVID case numbers are dropping both in Colorado and across the U.S., yet nurses are still feeling the gloom of pandemic stress.

Nursing agency IntelyCare recently surveyed 500 nurses nationwide, finding more than half of them (56%) sacrifice mental health for their jobs. Also, more than 2 in 5 (41%) are considering leaving the profession.

“Those statistics do not surprise me,” said registered nurse Lindsay McGuiness, who is now DispatchHealth’s Clinical Services Director. “We should not assume that just because the pandemic has progressed and evolved, that nursing is just fine and back to the basics.”

Having been a nurse for 16 years, seven of which were spent as a nursing manager in several hospital departments, McGuiness knows why many nurses are struggling with mental health even as COVID cases decline.

“Being a nurse is hard work ... physically, emotionally, socially. Having a support system that you can share your experiences with, I think is really important,” she added.

Looking further into IntelyCare’s survey, which is cited on businesswire.com, it also found of surveyed nurses:

  • 37% do not feel emotionally supported at work.
  • 72% have mental health resources through their employer, yet only 10% use them. The remaining 28% do not have those resources.
  • Nearly 40% cannot take time off when they’d like.
  • 61% have been told they work too much by loved ones.
  • 44% miss important family milestones because of work.
  • 74% came into the profession simply to help people.

McGuiness says one of the main reasons nurses are in this position is because of the very nature of what drew many to the job in the first place -- they simply want to help, often putting their own needs on the back burner.

“Nurses sacrifice personal time or their personal life to help patients and to help their teammates,” McGuiness said. “It’s challenging to give everything that you have in your workplace every single day ... Even if you don’t want to take it home with you, if there are people or animals or other things in your life that also require an emotional connection, it can become overwhelming.”

When asked what can be done to help, McGuiness shared a few thoughts:

For nurses: “Build in that ability to pause and set boundaries, for yourself, for teammates, and with patients directly. Nurses can identify when it’s okay to say no, or to ask for help ... It’s a skill that needs to be taught and learned.”

For the community: “The concern from our community and society about a nursing shortage is real. I think members of our society should be worried about nursing in general, although I think instead of talking about it or making assumptions, we need to figure out how to support nursing ... Nurses should feel valued, and that they feel like there’s maybe a little bit of light at the end of this really challenging past couple of years.”

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