Nurse Burnout: Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 2
Words: 583
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

The COVID-19 pandemic presents one of the most impactful historical events that significantly affected the nursing workforce. Nurses were faced with a high workload and had to take care of a much bigger number of patients. Nurse burnouts were common before the pandemic and often entailed nurses’ layoffs and further changes in activities, which posed a threat to the overall health care system. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on nurse burnout can have significant negative consequences for the overall healthcare system and the quality of patient care.

Burnout is commonly characterized as a state of emotional exhaustion which results from the excessive workload and lack of rewards, positive connections, and fairness at work. In some cases, burnout is associated with a divergence of employee and organization’s values or insufficient resources required for job accomplishment. Maslach Burnout Inventory classifies burnout as a response to work stress and a negative reaction to other people (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). While in general, it is clear that burnout presents an outcome of work processes, it is unknown which factors have a greater impact on burnout.

Nurses present one of the most important components of the healthcare system. In addition to having a diverse set of skills necessary for health promotion, prevention, and treatment, nurses also constitute nearly 30% of national hospital employment (Shah et al., 2021). However, the elements of the work environment such as staffing shortage, hostile communication between professionals, and lack of leadership make nurses particularly vulnerable to burnout. The research conducted by Dall’Ora et al. (2020), examined the factors related to burnout using Maslach’s concept of six areas of work life. The research defined workload as the most frequently mentioned factor related to burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Furthermore, a substantial portion of research in the existing body of knowledge pointed to the connection between nurse staffing inadequacy and burnout. Thus, a sudden increase in workload can potentially predict burnout among nursing professionals. Moreover, a sudden increase in workload accompanied by staff shortages is more likely to cause burnout in a substantial part of nursing professionals.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing professionals were exposed to various psychological and physical stressors, which put much pressure on their mental stability. According to Jamebozorg et al. (2022), nurses had a crucial role in patient care and were constantly stressed by the responsibility for possible errors and their potential effect on patients. Effective stress management presents an important measure in the prevention of burnout. However, under conditions of urgency in providing care to several patients at once, it is possible that many nurses internalize their stress instead of managing it. Thus, the pandemic circumstances and psychological stress accelerated the development of burnout initially originated as a response to an increased workload.

In conclusion, this paper addressed the issue of nurses’ burnout after the COVID-19 pandemic. Firstly, the paper defined that the pandemic can have an adverse effect on the overall healthcare system and the future wellbeing of the population. Next, by exploring the existing research on the topic of burnouts, the paper identified that burnouts are mainly associated with an increased workload in the existing body of knowledge. Furthermore, the paper determined that nurses caring for several patients simultaneously experienced additional stress due to the high responsibility and increased chances of errors. Thus, in addition to increased workload, which itself is a predictor of burnout, nurses were exposed to physical and psychological stress, which can result in a significant reduction in the number of nurses.


Dall’Ora, C., Ball, J., Reinius, M., & Griffiths, P. (2020). Burnout in nursing: A theoretical review. Human Resources for Health, 18, 1-17.

Jamebozorgi, M. H., Karamoozian, A., Bardsiri, T. I. & Sheikhbardsiri, H. (2022) Nurses burnout, resilience, and its association with socio-demographic factors during COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 1-7.

Shah, M. K., Gandrakota, N., Cimiotti, J. P., Ghose, N., Moore, M., & Ali, M. K. Prevalence of and factors associated with nurse burnout in the US. JAMA Network Open, 4(2), 1-11.