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How the pandemic changed nurses' views on their careers

The pandemic reminded us of the vital role that health professionals, like nurses, play in society. Everyday they risk their lives to save patients' and that's what real heroes do!

They are an inspiration to us and therefore we wanted to understand how the pandemic impacted their lives and work, so a few weeks ago we launched an anonymous questionnaire, whose insights we will share with you in this article.

In the survey, we asked some questions about how the pandemic changed their perspectives on their work, whether they felt supported, what were their biggest challenges and whether any of them reconsidered their career choice.

Here is the feedback we got from the survey: 

To the question “Do you feel your workplace provided adequate support both physically and mentally”:

  • Feel they could have done more - 46%
  • I didn’t feel supported - 21%
  • A small amount was offered - 18%
  • Yes I felt looked after - 14%

Some of the feedback we received:

“I felt I was treated as a pawn, decisions were made without my input and I was moved to another workplace for an indefinite time.“

“There were covid outbreaks amongst staff and management refused to swab us as they didn't want us all out sick. We were given critically ill patients with ridiculous nurse patient ratios. We were given a phone charger as a thank you for our hard work”

“There were counselling given to staff but not enough and we weren't given a choice when we were sent to whichever unit to work in qualified or not”

“Lack of clear, concise communication from the top down”

“We had a lack of PPE, no adequate oxygen for the patients”

“A lot of extra hours were expected but no incentive was given” 


However we must stress we did see the positive...

“They have supported the staff in terms of vaccines, workload, shifting, annual leaves and performance review which is very good.”

“They were able to offer me a different schedule to adjust with childcare but day to day work was harder due to the change”


We asked our participants what their biggest challenge in the last year and a half has been. Here is some of the feedback:

“The combination of stress from covid, dealing with a severely understaffed and under-resourced ward. Not feeling adequately protected with ppe. Realising the significant responsibility placed on us and even the danger we are physically, emotionally and professionally placed in almost every day with remuneration which is in no way commensurate for it. I love being a nurse and midwife but I am not prepared to be forced to work in unsafe conditions anymore.”

“Having to balance work and home life, dealing with covid in general, reassuring and making decisions which I felt were the best for my family while not being able to visit family members who live back home”

“Staffing shortages, no support from management, lack of appreciation by the service, feeling unheard, burn out & stress due to workplace culture”


To the question “In a few words please describe how the pandemic has changed your work/life balance?”, most highlighted the importance that family has in their lives.

“Work is not that important anymore. My family is my focus.”

“I can only work when family circumstances allow. I now work through an Agency only.”

“I feel it made family life more of a priority than ever. No matter how hard you work you can be replaced right away if you get sick or leave. I felt certain decisions done at work were very unfair and my colleagues and I have not been treated in a fair and professional way”

“I now have a much better work life balance as I recognise what is most important and useful in keeping me well.”

“It has made me appreciate my days off more and to make the most of them but also the obsessed importance of resting my body, especially with night shifts”

“Already the overburdened workload has increased. At times very frustrating as no let up from demands. Really impressed by colleagues who've risen selfishly to the challenge.”

“No down time. No holidays. Constant stress.”


Regarding the question of whether during the pandemic they ever reconsidered their career choice the majority answered “Crossed my mind” but some answered “Not at all” or “Didn’t think about it”.


Here are some additional thoughts that our participants have kindly provided us with.

“I am very optimistic and grateful for all the things I have picked up and learned especially during the health crisis that the world is facing. A lot of realizations have been made and that it is important to help each other, stay healthy and to keep well-informed.”

“I hope the lessons of the past 18 months are used for the best in our healthcare system”

“In the aftermath of Covid, I am stepping down from a CNM2 post and 16 years in management to a staff nurse post so that I can prioritise my family life.”

“Many in the healthcare workforce are exhausted and were burned out before this pandemic hit”

“Hospital management must look after their staff like staff look after them”


We hope you enjoyed this article and appreciated the feedback from our participants as we did. And we would like to thank once again all the nurses who participated in this survey. 


Clarity is here to support nurses, and other healthcare professionals, in their career development. If you are looking to change jobs or even discuss career options, feel free to contact Laura or book a career consultation at: [email protected]

Posted on 22 July 2021 by Laura Mulchrone & Andreia Castro
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