Mental toll of COVID pandemic could push health care workers to leave

Dec 19, 2021, 12:48 PM
health care workers...
A nurse works near an inflated glove with a Thanksgiving message on it in the trauma surgery ICU at Harborview Medical Center in 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely tough on health care workers across the United States, and it may cause some people to leave the field.

Virologist: Even if less severe than delta, omicron variant could stress health care system

A study to assess the mental health effects of COVID-19 care among U.S. health care workers and first-responders showed that nearly half of all respondents, and 59% of all nurses, reported that their experiences had somewhat or significantly reduced their likelihood of remaining in their current field.

The UW Medicine Newsroom shared the results of this study, which is still ongoing. Psychiatry specialists at UW Medicine and the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System in Seattle, as well as emergency medicine physicians at Columbia University, collaborated on the research.

Early results, which represent 510 respondents, were published Dec. 16 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“It’s really important to remember that healthcare workers and first-responders may be professionals who are ‘trained’ to deal with trauma, but we are still human beings who are affected by what we experience,” said Dr. Rebecca Hendrickson, lead author and acting assistant professor with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UW School of Medicine and a clinician at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, in a written statement.

Washington seeing ‘rapid rise’ of omicron variant cases leading into holiday season

Between pandemic burnout and leaving to become traveling nurses, health workers in Washington state — and across the country — have been exiting hospitals in droves.

“For almost two years, nurses and health care workers have worked longer and longer hours and put their lives at risk to help us,” said David Keepnews, a registered nurse and director of the Washington State Nurses Association.

To get help from legislators to address hospital staffing shortages in Washington, health workers across the state are launching the WA Safe + Healthy Campaign.

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Mental toll of COVID pandemic could push health care workers to leave