Ascellus Blog

Healthcare in Crisis: 500k Nurses Plan to Leave the Industry in 2022

September 20, 2022
Nurses leaving

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed healthcare workers to their limits. The survey “Clinician of the Future,” by Elsevier Health predicts that up to 75% of healthcare workers will be leaving the industry by 2025. The nation is already watching the dominos fall as 500,000 seasoned nurses are expected to retire between now and the end of 2022, contributing to a larger shortage of 1.1 million nurses according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the severity of pandemic circumstances accelerates an already dire situation, the nation and healthcare industry leaders are faced with confronting the issue and finding a hasty solution.  

The stress of working as the nation’s first line of defense against the virus, fighting the untreatable and fearing for their own lives, has caused passion and patience for the job to wane. The impact on physical health is heavy with 76% of nurses reporting feeling exhausted from the job. According to a Mckinsey survey, of those initiating their exit from the profession altogether, 54% report that the emotional toll of working in healthcare is their primary motivation for quitting while 56% attribute their decision to the demanding nature of the job. This most reported reason for leaving, however, is insufficient staffing. 

Fifty-nine percent of nurses surveyed claimed staff shortages are their primary reason for looking for other employment options, creating a vicious cycle of healthcare worker loss. Combined with natural staff loss from aging professionals and difficulty retaining fresh talent, the industry is struggling to keep sufficient numbers. According to Press Ganey, nurses under the age of 35 working for an employer for less than one year are most likely to leave of their own volition. In fact, getting nurses in the door at all is becoming increasingly difficult. Each year, 188,000 nurses graduate and enter the industry; however, 33% leave the job by the second year due to stress and burnout.

Work-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (W-CBT) is an accessible and long-term solution in fighting burnout and retaining nursing staff. A recent Ascellus study suggests that brief work-focused cognitive behavioral therapy in conjunction with customary outpatient medical care for COVID-19 is an effective tool to reduce recovery time and help frontline essential workers overcome stress, anxiety and depressed mood associated with returning to work. In fact, 80% of healthcare workers who participated in W-CBT returned to full-time work without restrictions within 12 weeks.

Providing mental health resources and education to healthcare workers in need may be the key to retaining nursing professionals, attracting fresh talent and securing the future of U.S. healthcare. 

For more information on both individual support and treatment interventions or organization-wide prevention programs, call us at 1.866.678.2924 or email us at

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Ascellus bridges the gap between mental and physical health to accelerate recovery for our nation's workforce. By connecting the workers' compensation industry with our expert behavioral care and evidence-based treatments, we deliver high-quality outcomes, helping injured workers reemerge with increased strength, purpose and resilience in the workplace.