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How Covid-19 Changed Nurse Life

Nurse life changed because of the pandemic: the hours, the job, the career. A new survey sheds light on what it’s like to be a nurse in the time of Covid-19.

Between July 30 – August 11, 2020, The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix conducted an online survey of 300 full-time nurses who are US residents, ages 18 and older. Questions focused on employment, career, relationships, and Covid-19. Here’s what they found.

Hours increased for some, and job security became a concern

On average, nurses report working 42 hours a week. Approximately a third of nurses saw their hours increase because of the pandemic. Other reasons for the increase include:

  • 37% because other staff members had their hours cut, were furloughed, or reassigned
  • 36% experienced an overflow of non-Covid-19 patients coming in from other hospitals
  • 28% because other staff members quit
  • 8% travelled to another location to help out an area that was hard hit by Covid-19

However, others saw hours reduced which caused them to worry about job security. This sample was less than 100 respondents, but the following found more time on their hands:

  • 65% because fewer patients are willing to come into the office/hospital
  • 42% saw fewer elective surgeries/traumas scheduled
  • 36% had their workplace close or take fewer patients
  • 15% had employers who were struggling financially

And, more than half of the nurses whose hours have decreased say they are concerned about their job security.

Jobs changed, but career options remain about the same

Working hours are not the only thing that has changed for nurses, nearly 2 out of 3 nurses reported changes at their job since the pandemic began in the US, including:

  • Their job duties/responsibilities
  • The type of patients they see
  • Their work setting
  • Their salary/hourly wage
  • Their title

While half of nurses say they have about the same amount of career options now as they did before the pandemic began, more than 1 in 4 feel they have fewer options. Notably, 20% of nurses say they have more options now than before the pandemic began.

RELATED: 8 Actions to Advance Your Career in 2020, Year of the Nurse

More nurses have taken leadership roles

About 3 in 4 nurses say they have taken on more leadership responsibility since the Covid-19 pandemic began and feel like other staff look at them as a leader. In addition, 61% say their opinion is valued more by their colleagues since the pandemic began.

However, 55% of nurses say they feel like their voice is not really being heard in this crisis and 84% wish nurses had a stronger leadership role during this crisis.

Nurses feel less respected

While nurses believe their employer treats them fairly and cares about their employees, 80% and 77% respectively, they feel there is a respect gap between doctors and nurses. Specifically:

  • 65% believe their employers view doctors and nurses differently
  • 63% of nurses feel doctors do not respect nurses as much as they respect other doctors
  • 75% believe patients respect nurses and doctors differently

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Nurse life is more balanced than before the pandemic

Although it hasn’t been business as usual for the majority of nurses since the pandemic began in the U.S., 22% report their work-life balance has improved. Specifically:

  • 58% feel that they have become a better professional in their industry
  • 58% feel that they are a better team member to their colleagues
  • 55% feel that they are a better human being
  • 39% feel that they’ve become a better spouse/partner/significant other
  • 38% feel that they’ve become a better friend
  • 27% feel that they’ve become a better parent

This is the most challenging time to be a nurse

Nearly a third feel they have been able to maintain their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic, though more than half of nurses admit their mental health has deteriorated.

More than 3 in 4 nurses say that working during the pandemic has been the most challenging time in their career and nearly half of nurses have contemplated quitting their job at some point. Still, despite feelings of exhaustion, fear, and risk of Covid-19 exposure, approximately 90% of nurses say they like and are satisfied with their job. They also agree that their job is more important than ever right now.

READ NEXT: Don’t Let Covid-19 Get in the Way of Compassionate Nursing

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