Nurses are crying as they leave their shifts, terrified and tired, as they battle the worst Covid-19 outbreak ever. Because of the large number of coronavirus patients and admissions to hospitals around the world, some nurses are at their breaking point, believing there will be no end in sight. This is attributed to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the rising number of patients admitted on a regular basis.

Why Nurses are Drained and Traumatized

Having to put in double the effort: Working in the midst of the pandemic, according to some nurses, has been the most difficult part of their careers. The sheer number of patients who are already contaminated needs to be treated at the hospital. Nurses' physical fatigue is now exacerbated by their emotional exhaustion.

This is something a lot of nurses cannot take, the double working hours, the extra physical exertion of trying to stabilize infected patients while ensuring that they themselves are safe from contracting this deadly virus has led most of these nurses to quit. 

Skilled Hands in Short Supply: Despite the rise in bed capacity for those infected, one of the causes of these nurses' acute exhaustion is an insufficient supply of critical care nursing personnel. Similar to the first wave, hospital personnel are being redeployed from other places to assist, but they seem to not be enough. 

Nurses are overworked as a result of this: When there is a shortage of nurses to care for critically ill patients, the nurses assigned to these duties, who are virtually unable to cope with the sheer number of patients on a regular basis, overwork themselves, resulting in physical and mental fatigue.

Some of these nurses who have been redeployed to units outside their fields tend to be suffering from the effects of working in unfamiliar units, particularly in terms of their mental health. The long-term mental health consequences for such nurses would be immense stress and post-traumatic stress disorder which also leads to nurses having to take time off. Needing breaks. And some quitting entirely. 

How to Keep Nurses Happy and Prevent Over Exhaustion and Trauma 

Reducing Work Hours: Nurses are overworked at the moment, as a consequence of the pandemic. Hospitals and healthcare organizations put a high emphasis on patient satisfaction, reportable quality metrics, and reducing readmissions. These priorities, combined with more acutely ill patients, make it more difficult for nurses to provide quality care — let alone do so when exhausted.

Nurses take their jobs seriously and have a high degree of expertise that is needed to provide excellent treatment. The reality of being a nurse in today's healthcare delivery system, particularly in the midst of the pandemic, seems daunting and often impossible, with over 100 tasks per shift and interruptions every three minutes. Emotional fatigue, physical injuries as a result of the job's demands, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all common ailments among our nurses.

More trained nurses are required for more shift flexibility and for those employed to have free time to relax. This is because fatigue and sleep loss caused by long work hours and circadian disturbance is the medical profession's Achilles heel. 

Fatigue raises the risk of adverse events, jeopardizes patient safety, and puts one's own safety and well-being at risk. Furthermore, one out of every five emergency room nurses meets the requirements for post-traumatic stress disorder, which is clearly caused by fatigue. Consider what it would be like if one-fifth of your hospital or healthcare organization's nursing staff, including ED nurses, were exhausted and PTSD-affected. This has an effect on not just the happiness and success of the hospital employees, but also the quality of treatment and the patient experience.

Employee involvement and appreciation will help hospitals and health systems boost employee productivity and reduce turnover, resulting in a happier, healthier workforce. The findings would show a strong link between improved patient satisfaction and satisfied and committed nursing staff.


Taking some of these pressures off of nurses' plates will help them return to the bedside and have outstanding experiences. This not only relieves tension but also ensures that nurses are fulfilled with their work by allowing them to return to the position they swore to play: devoted to the welfare of those entrusted to their care.

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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