Study: 100% of nurses are anxious, 75% are burned out

Exhausted nurse stock photo.
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Hostility and aggression from patients, short staffing and burnout have made the COVID-19 pandemic an anxiety-filled situation for nearly all New York City nurses who participated in a recent survey.

Close to 100 percent of nurses who participated in the New York Professional Nurses Union survey said they have felt more anxious since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The survey was distributed to 1,738 nurses and completed by 589 over the span of two weeks.

According to a press release from the union, 83 percent of respondents have felt more stressed in addition to feeling anxious and 75 percent said they have felt burnout. Even more – 85 percent – have regularly been in short-staffed situations.

While on duty, around 60 percent of nurses surveyed said they “don’t feel adequately supported to deliver the safest, quality care to patients,” and 50 percent said they have experienced more hostility and aggression from patients or visitors in the hospital than usual over the past 18 months.

Some nurses haven’t been able to escape the stress at work when they are off the clock. More than 20 percent of survey respondents said they experienced more hostility and aggression outside the hospital for wearing their uniforms or scrubs.

“We are especially aggrieved to see that almost half of nurses are experiencing increased levels of aggression and hostility from patients and visitors, and even outside the hospital just for wearing scrubs or a uniform,” said Eileen Toback, executive director of the New York Professional Nurses Union. “Nurses care for our communities at our weakest and most vulnerable moments — it's sickening to see people scapegoat them in response to the implications of this pandemic.”

Since last March, 36 percent of the nurses surveyed said they have experienced depression and 42 percent are considering leaving the profession.

“The results from our recent survey may be a rude awakening for some, but these findings won’t shock any nurse about how common stress, anxiety, and burnout are among nurses working on the frontlines. We hope this data can inspire a responsive collective bargaining agreement that mitigates stress, burnout, and unsafe ratios to ultimately retain staff long-term.” said Toback “Nurses are not superheroes; nurses are human heroes. Humans have issues like PTSD right now, especially in the medical profession.”