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Nursing Leadership COVID-19 Study

The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) partnered with Joslin Marketing to conduct a longitudinal study on the impact of COVID-19 on nursing leadership in key areas over time. The first survey, conducted in July 2020, followed the initial surge, while AONL fielded the second survey after the winter surge in February 2021.

Nearly 2,500 nurse leaders completed the newest survey with findings indicating a change in the primary challenges nurse leaders faced since last summer: access to PPE improved while mental health and staffing issues have worsened.

As stated by one nurse leader:

“We have seen nurses leaving the profession due to moral distress, burnout, and fatigue. I believe if we can address the root cause of this problem, we will retain more nurses and begin to stabilize the numbers in the workforce.”

Respondent Profile

Heat map distribution of respondents' primary work zip codes

Survey respondents include nurse leaders at all levels across the continuum of care. The vast majority of respondents were either chief nursing officers or executives (17 percent) vice presidents, directors (34 percent), or managers (32 percent).

Fifty-two percent of respondents came from acute care hospitals, while 14 percent are from health system facilities and only four percent came from long-term care or post-acute care facilities. The respondents skewed to urban settings (51 percent) versus 29 percent suburban, and 20 percent rural.

Top Challenges During the Pandemic: Then and Now

Challenges in July 2020:

Challenges in February 2021:

Of note, the percentage of nurse leaders who selected access to PPE dropped by 24% since July 2020.


Additional Survey Resources

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