RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nurses are leaving the workforce at an alarming rate, according to a new study that projects one-fifth of registered nurses will have left the workforce because of stress, burnout and retirement by 2027.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing revealed the data on Thursday that finds 100,000 nurses left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years.
Burnout and fatigue are pervasive in nursing, according to the study, which warns that these factors threaten the future of the U.S. nursing workforce, particularly for younger, less experienced registered nurses.
For NC State student Brady Hoffacker, the nursing shortage is a serious problem that he hopes is addressed by the time he enters healthcare as a future physician assistant.
"I'm just hoping that more people have a desire to go into the medical field and to help people out," Hoffacker said. "Because without people that are willing to do that, the people who are, are going to be able to get burnt out more than they should be, and they will be forced to work longer hours and that just drives down ability to provide the best care possible for the patients that need it."
A quarter to half of nurses reported feeling emotionally drained, used up, fatigued, burned out, or at the end of the rope "a few times a week," or "every day," namely among nurses with 10 or fewer years of experience, the study said.
The findings come as overall, there's a 3.3% decline in the U.S. nursing workforce in the past two years.
In North Carolina, the state is short 5,000 to 8,000 nurses per year, according to the North Carolina Nurses Association.
UNC-Chapel Hill receives $5 million gift to address nursing shortage
Despite the grim warning about the ongoing nursing shortage, researchers said there's an urgent opportunity for leaders to address these challenges for better patient care, which Hoffacker hopes is the case.
"Nursing is a really important practice and job for a lot of the people who work in the medical field just because they do so much," Hoffacker said. "They study a wide variety of things and without their ability to identify certain symptoms, whether it's sickness or disease or injuries, then the people won't have the information needed to be able to provide with the best care."