MSN – For Audra Williams, intensive care unit (ICU) nursing was her “passion.” And for almost eight years, it was her career, leading her to work across four U.S. states including, most recently, New York.
But when the coronavirus pandemic broke out last year, and when New York City turned into the virus’ global epicenter at one point, she was faced with a difficult decision: Should she leave behind the job she loves for the sake of her own health?
“My mental health suffered more than I had ever experienced,” Williams told CNBC.
Excessive workload, failed leadership and emotional trauma left Williams facing anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and in July 2020, she left her nursing job to become an advocate for health-care workers.
A mass health-care exodus
Williams is one of many health-care workers rethinking their frontline careers in response to heightened pressure from the Covid-19 crisis.
According to recent studies, between 20% and 30% of frontline U.S. health-care workers say they are now considering leaving the profession.
Notably, one April 2021 study by health care jobs marketplace Vivian found that four in 10 (43%) nurses are considering leaving their role in 2021 — a figure that is higher among ICU workers (48%).
And the U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon. A recent report by the British Medical Association found that thousands of U.K. doctors plan to leave the National Health Service after the pandemic due to exhaustion and concerns over their mental health.
Close to one-third (31%) of those surveyed said they were now more likely to retire early, while a quarter (25%) were considering taking a career break and around one in six (17%) said they would rather work in another country.
“A combination of the way the pandemic has been handled and years of chronic underinvestment has left me disillusioned. I am not only considering leaving my job, but also the country,” Danny Leigh, a radiographer from Cumbria, England told the Guardian …
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