COVID-19 Pandemic and Psychological Effects Leading to Nursing Shortage


The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the welfare of numerous populations, resulting in multiple negative consequences. The professionals involved in the medical sphere were reported to have been most adversely impacted by the effects of the virus, manifesting both psychological and physical exhaustion due to the pressure elicited by the constant demand for clinical services (Sun et al., 2020). As the disease continues to spread and evolve, the burden of medical assistance and effective treatment consistently rises, forcing clinical personnel to work under stressful conditions.

The nursing staff, who most frequently interact with infected patients and are expected to the negative symptoms, can be most detrimentally influenced by such demanding working conditions, experiencing a decrease in their mental resilience and stress avoidance. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, and depression, developing as a consequence of continuous excessive workload, lack of support, and risk of infection, often compel nurses to quit their occupation to preserve their psychological stability (Marshall et al., 2021; Moradi et al., 2021). In this regard, high nurse turnover rates become a significant issue for clinical institutions, which are presented with staff shortages (Poortaghi et al., 2021). The current study aims to examine the problem of excessive nurse turnover rates in the current environment, exploring the primary psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that prompt high nurse turnover rates and shortages.

Problem Statement

Increased turnover rates of the nursing personnel are often considered pertinent issues in the medical environment. The nursing profession involves the performance of such challenging tasks as consistent patient communication, performance anxiety, and procedure execution (Sun et al., 2020). However, with the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for the nursing staff has elevated significantly due to the lack of developed treatment and the severity of manifested symptoms. Patients infected with the COVID-19 orders require continuous attention and medical assistance, as well as close evaluation of their condition (Moradi et al., 2021). In addition, it is essential to hinder the development of the virus, carefully following the isolation procedures. Under the extreme pressure from the family members and the highly increased workload due to infection spread, nurses suffer from considerable psychological impact.

Current research reveals that the scope of this problem is exceptionally large, encompassing the nursing staff throughout the world. First of all, the majority of nurses involved in COVID-19 treatment in intensive care units are exposed to severe risks of stress and post-traumatic stress disorder, manifesting symptoms of excessive mental toll and exhaustion (Moradi et al., 2021). A predominant majority of studies demonstrate that nurses in different facilities and countries report multiple psychological issues that prevent them from efficiently completing their tasks and remaining motivated to fulfill their responsibilities (Galehdar et al., 2020; Moradi et al., 2021). After that, burnout and shortage rates have increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic, where only 11% of registered nurses stated that they were prepared to attempt to COVID-19 positive patients (Marshall et al., 2021). Considering these circumstances, nurse turnover and shortage were observed in numerous clinical institutions, requiring immediate action (Marshall et al., 2021). Failing to address this issue and ignoring the needs of the nursing personnel might adversely affect not only the clinical establishments’ productivity but also the quality of patient care throughout the world, decreasing the populations’ interest in this profession.


Currently, several information gaps are to be addressed to efficiently resolve the problem. Firstly, the primary psychological factors contributing to faster burnout and the possibility of quitting are to be evaluated. After that, it is essential to examine the environmental and psychological attributes that increase the nurses’ resilience. Although several elements negatively affecting mental preparedness and burnout were examined, additional inquiry into the relation between psychological toll and turnover is needed (Sun et al., 2020). The present study focuses on the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that lead to high rates of nurse shortages and turnover, utilizing the CREATION principles and the Newman Systems Model as beneficial instruments that could narrow the existent knowledge gaps and improve the nurses’ mental resilience.


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Marshall, V. K., Chavez, M., Mason, T. M., & Martinez‐Tyson, D. (2021). Emergency preparedness during the COVID‐19 pandemic: Perceptions of oncology professionals and implications for nursing management from a qualitative study. Journal of Nursing Management. Web.

Moradi, Y., Baghaei, R., Hosseingholipour, K., & Mollazadeh, F. (2021). Challenges experienced by ICU nurses throughout the provision of care for COVID‐19 patients: A qualitative study. Journal of Nursing Management, 29(5). Web.

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