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Harris Poll finds most nurses are proud of the work they do and that their job is more important than ever because of the pandemic

By Melany Stroupe

This has been an unprecedented year for nurses as they have faced the challenges of a global pandemic. Many have worked long hours, seen changes in their job duties and have experienced anxiety about their own health and safety and that of their families. As part of recognizing National Nurses Week, May 6- 12, University of Phoenix commissioned The Harris Poll to survey 300 nurses across the nation to better understand their perception of the nursing profession since the start of the pandemic.

Despite all these obstacles, nurses feel overwhelmingly positive about their jobs and are proud to belong to the nursing profession. The survey found that 99% of nurses are proud of the work that they do and 87% agree their job is more important than ever right now. Job satisfaction was also high with 90% of nurses saying they like their job and 88% say they are satisfied with their job.

Even though nurses feel positive about their job, 78% of nurses say that working during the pandemic has been the most challenging time in their careers. Nurses reported feeling exhausted (65%), fearful (49%) and underappreciated (36%). Many said they were concerned about their risk of exposure to COVID-19 (88%) or their organization’s ability to keep up with a surge of COVID-19 patients (63%). In fact, 46% of nurses thought about quitting their job at some point during the pandemic.

“This has been a challenging year and nurses should take great pride in the care they gave,” said Kathleen Winston Ph.D., RN, dean for the College of Nursing at University of Phoenix. “Often nurses are seeing people during the most vulnerable moments in their lives. In the pandemic, patients were even more vulnerable as they were isolated from loved ones. Those drawn to the nursing profession have a desire to serve others, and that mindset likely saw many of them through this difficult time.”

According to the survey findings, the majority of nurses do see their job as more than a vocation. When asked about their profession, 96% of nurses believed that nursing is not just a job, it is a calling. They also believe they made the right career choice with 86% saying if they had to do it all over again, they would likely choose the nursing profession again.

One of the silver linings of the past year has been the opportunity for nurses to grow in their profession and as individuals. Many nurses report changes at their job since the pandemic began in the U.S., including: their job duties/responsibilities (49%), the type of patients they see (39%) and their work setting (37%). Moreover, since the pandemic began in the U.S., 58% of nurses say they have become a better professional in their industry, 58% a better team member for their colleagues, and 55% said they became a better human being.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a renewed interest in nursing careers and for good reason,” said Dr. Winston. “In nursing, you can change your job and responsibilities without changing careers. There are many different paths you can take in nursing such as community health care, health advocacy and nurse education. Nursing is a rewarding career for life-long learners that have a heart for caring for others.”

Dr. Winston shares the following tips for future nurses, novice nurses and expert nurses.

Allow your heart to choose your profession
Nursing is not for everyone. Recognize that nursing is a profession grounded in humility, compassion and service. Not every day will be easy or good. But there will be something challenging and good every day. You will touch lives in a meaningful way. For a nurse, nursing is not just what you do, it is who you are.

Commit to lifelong learning
By committing to lifelong learning, the nursing profession can be richly rewarding throughout your entire career. In addition to continuing education, engage in workplace committees and look for volunteer opportunities that can help grow your leadership skills. Nurses at every level should join a professional association. This will be a place where nurses will learn, grow, and develop along with their peers and have the opportunity to hear from expert nurse leaders.

Expand your network
Find a mentor, nurse educator or nurse leader you admire who is willing to share their story about their career journey. Their perspective can help shape your career goals especially if your options or goals are not fully crystallized for you. This is equally essential for experienced nurses to help them evaluate their future direction, opportunities and decisions that are ahead for them throughout their career.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between July 30 – August 11, 2020 among 300 nurses who are US residents, ages 18 and older and currently employed full-time as a nurse. Figures were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact

About University of Phoenix®
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