Report: COVID-19 is Driving Major Shifts in Nursing, Exacerbating Shortage

September 13, 2021 | Aya Media Buzz , Press Releases

Aya Healthcare, the nation’s leading healthcare staffing agency, today released a new IRB-reviewed research study that finds the physical and emotional traumas of COVID-19 are driving nurses to leave bedside nursing or the profession altogether. The report, “Mind the Gap: Repairing the U.S. Healthcare Workforce,” features insights based on 30 qualitative interviews conducted in May and June of 2021 with both travel and core staff nurses. The interviews centered on the lived experiences of these nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is now influencing their career choices. The report also offers insights to healthcare leaders on effective strategies to heal and advance our post-pandemic workforce.

From a labor standpoint, we entered the COVID-19 pandemic with a strained U.S. healthcare system. The existing workforce performed the herculean task of caring for communities despite not having adequate provisions of necessary equipment, staffing and resources. Now, in the ongoing phases of the pandemic, the healthcare workforce is experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout and high turnover, affecting quality care delivery and patient outcomes.

“The battle for nurses is tougher than ever,” said April Hansen, group president of workforce solutions at Aya Healthcare. “Understanding their motivation to remain in nursing, happiness levels with current employers and professional choice are critical to gauging long-term workforce stability. And our research found that, most importantly, nurses need our time and attention.”

An increased number of travel nurses have entered the marketplace as the demand for temporary workers is skyrocketing. As the nation’s largest travel nurse agency, we also looked at motivating factors for core staff nurses choosing to take travel assignments. While financial compensation is a common driver for all groups of nurses, we found many switched to travel nursing to go where the need is, because they were burned out at their current hospitals and to avoid what the participants deemed “hospital politics.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • COVID-19 is driving major shifts in the U.S. nursing workforce composition
  • Happiness levels and stress levels are primary influencers on career decisions
  • The emotional and physical impacts of the pandemic are extensive
  • Animosity is growing between core staff nurses and travel nurses
  • Nurses are seeking support from hospital management

Recommendations to repair our post-pandemic workforce include:

  • Heal and advance mental well-being first and foremost with targeted interventions
  • Understand each employee’s current happiness and stress levels to predict likelihood to remain employed
  • Address perceptions and expectations for financial compensation
  • Connect the work back to the “why”

To download “Mind the Gap: Repairing the U.S. Healthcare Workforce,” visit

Leave a Comment

Your comment will be reviewed by our moderators before it is posted.