Thirty percent of health-care workers have considered leaving the field after working through the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll.
More than half of the nearly 3,000 U.S. healthcare workers who were surveyed reported feeling burned out. About 6 in 10 said their mental health has taken a toll. While some lawmakers have introduced legislation, in part, to incentivize health-care workers to stay in their professions, one local nurse said she believes repairing medical workers’ mental health should be the priority.
“We’re burned out, we’re exhausted, so, it’s been ... it’s been a whirlwind,” said Robyn Sarvis, a registered nurse at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center.
Sarvis told NBC 7 that some of her coworkers have left the field because of the trauma they experienced during the pandemic.
“I think the saddest part about it is that there are good health-care workers, good nurses, people that I loved going to work with, who have had to make changes to support their own mental health,” Sarvis said
Sarvis, who worked on the frontlines this past year, reflected on the long hours worked and countless deaths that are factors that have weighed heavy on her and her colleagues.
“You don’t get any downtime," Sarvis said. "You don’t get any rest, even when you’re at home you’re thinking about these things.".
California lawmakers have recognized the threat of losing health-care workers. This week, legislators considered $10,000 bonuses to thank health-care staff who worked through the pandemic. Proponents of the bill said it would also help entice health-care workers to stay in the field. But on Thursday, the bill was killed.
“Money is a motivator for everybody, but more than a financial motivation is taking care of our mental health and making sure that we have these systems in place so that when we experience something like this again, we are prepared to support our nurses and healthcare workers through that,” Sarvis said.
Sarvis, a member of the United Nurses Associations of California, said she supports AB-562, known as the Frontline COVID-19 Provider Mental Health Resiliency Act. It would provide health-care workers with mental health resources, in addition to employee assistance programs.
“That is the one thing that will keep us in the industry," Sarvis said. "It will keep us from leaving our jobs, because right now we need that support."
AB-562 is awaiting approval in the Senate.