Over 2,000 nurses, along with nurse practitioners, and nursing students, were surveyed by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario -- and almost 95 per cent of the respondents agreed the pandemic affected their work, with a majority of nurses reporting high or very high stress levels.
In addition to that, the survey found that at least 13 per cent of RNs aged 26-35 said they are very likely to leave the profession after the pandemic.
To encourage nurses to stay, the RNAO suggests that the provincial government and employers must increase support for early and mid-career nurses, increase staffing levels, encourage admissions to nursing programs by 10 per cent, increase the supply of nurse practitioners and prepare to replace those in management and faculty positions who are close to retirement.
"Losing so many nurses at an early stage in their career would have a profound and lasting effect on how our health system functions so we need to take this very seriously and act immediately," says Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO's CEO. "I am extremely worried and more determined than ever to advocate for the retention of nurses who are early in their career."
For now, the association is also consulting with nurses to see where improvements could be made, including reducing workload, limiting overtime and increasing mentorship opportunities in the workplace.