An astonishing number of healthcare workers plan to exit their professions following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from healthcare communications firm Jarrard.
As much as 15% of healthcare workers surveyed said they are unlikely to remain in the field after living through the pandemic. That’s about 2.7 million workers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 25% said they are somewhat likely to leave the healthcare field.
The numbers reveal a potentially devastating loss of workforce for an industry already battered by furloughs and lower staffing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital and health systems have suffered major hits to their bottom lines during the pandemic due to a decrease in volume and elective procedures.
Only three out of five healthcare workers said they are very likely to continue their career in healthcare.
“The possibility of a catastrophic ‘brain drain’ across the industry looms, if not addressed,” the report warned.
While many healthcare professionals want to leave the industry, they are––by far––the most trusted source of expertise when it comes to COVID-19. And 9 in 10 respondents believe doctors, nurses and hospitals should take an active role in educating the public about COVID-19. A whopping 62% also said hospitals need more federal funding. When it comes to vaccinations, 79% believe hospitals should require vaccinations for their staff.
But some vaccination opinions are concerning, with just over half (54%) of Americans saying they are extremely/very likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up just one percentage point from August 2020. Women are most reluctant to get the vaccine, as are those living in rural areas, Black and Hispanic populations and the uninsured. Most skeptics cited concerns over side effects as their reasoning for not getting vaccinated. However, there were some clues in the responses to improve vaccination.
“Doctors were ranked as the most influential in encouraging people to get the vaccine,” the study read. “Convenience was also key to speeding up the vaccination process across society.”
The findings underscore that while struggling, hospitals have many opportunities to continue their leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.