Staffing problems, workplace violence on the rise, more than 2,500 nurses say

Amid the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequate staffing, workplace violence and moral and mental distress are increasingly challenges for nurses, according to a national survey released April 14.

The National Nurses United's survey is based on responses from 2,575 NNU union nurses and nonunion nurses across the U.S. The results cover the period of Feb. 2-March 20.

Ten findings, according to the union:

1. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said staffing is slightly worse or much worse recently, up 20.2 percent from NNU's September 2021 survey and a 47.8 percent increase from the union's March 2021 survey

2. More than one-fourth of respondents (26.5 percent) said they were "floated" or reassigned to a clinical care area that required new skills or was not within their competency. That's compared to 17.8 percent reported in September. 

3. Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) said they were floated to units outside their expertise without getting any education or preparation. That's compared to 44.3 percent reported in September.

4. Nearly 65 percent of nurses said their hospitals are using excessive overtime to staff units, an increase from 49.3 percent in September.

5. Nearly half of hospital nurses (48 percent) reported rising workplace violence. That's compared to 30.6 percent in September and 21.9 percent in March 2021. 

6. Nearly 67 percent of respondents are afraid they will contract COVID-19, up from 42 percent in September. 

7. Nearly 84 percent of respondents said they feel stressed more often than before the pandemic, up from 53.5 percent in September.

8. Only 32 percent of respondents said their hospital has sufficient personal protective equipment stock to protect workers from a rapid surge of the virus.

9. Twenty-four percent of respondents said their hospital notifies them of COVID-19 exposures in a timely manner. 

10. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they sought treatment for a mental health condition related to caring for patients during the pandemic.

NNU represents more than 175,000 members nationwide, according to the union's website.

The survey findings come after the American Hospital Association called healthcare workforce challenges a national emergency in March. Health system CEOs have also cited workforce resiliency as one of their top growth strategies in 2022.

Read more about the survey findings here

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