Recent survey shows over 50% of nurses surveyed plan to leave their current position.


New York—Who will care for COVID-19 patients when all the nurses have quit? The question is not as far-fetched as it sounds. A recent poll from HOLLIBLU found that of 1,200 nurses, from 400 hospitals surveyed, 61% planned to leave their current position. One nurse in a recent NBC News story described nurses as  ‘cannon fodder’ at the frontlines of the COVID-19 battlefield, expendable, without adequate protection.

A new book by Dr. Karen Beck Wade, who is both a nurse and a psychologist, hopes to curb the retreat of nurses fleeing the COVID-19 battle. Dr. Wade’s book, Career Clarity for Nurses: Navigating Nursing Through Challenging Times helps nurses who are caught in a love/hate relationship with their jobs, to cope with the extraordinary stress of working on the pandemic frontlines, and to find renewed inspiration and peace of mind about their careers—even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses are not just discharging patients; they are starting to discharge themselves. “It is imperative that nurses find ways to resolve their pandemic-related trauma, or we risk losing legions of them,” Dr. Wade warned.

“The COVID-19 pandemic places nurses at the forefront of the battle to defeat the virus, while risking their lives, and often separating them from loved ones. Acutely aware that their patients need them, nurses are torn between their passionate commitment to caring for patients and their own, and loved ones’ health, happiness, and wellbeing,” added Dr. Wade. “Career Clarity for Nurses acknowledges this tension, including feelings of guilt, and provides permission, and a pathway, for nurses to answer the question that often runs on a loop in their minds, ‘Should I stay or should I go?’”

It’s no secret that the nursing profession has been sick for years. Nurses have been dealing with troubling “pre-existing” working conditions like a decades-long national nursing shortage that has progressively grown worse. Nurses frequently work ‘short-staffed’ which strains their ability to provide good care and comply with regulations. Cutting costs is endemic in the U.S. healthcare system, frequently cutting ancillary staff, with nurses expected to incorporate many non-nursing functions into their shifts, already overloaded with responsibilities The short-sightedness of cost-savings as a priority has come to light because of COVID-19, especially the lack of advance planning and staging for catastrophic events that require PPE and large quantities of specialized equipment.

COVID-19 has forced a reckoning as nurses now face the following:

  • Toxic levels of stress and exhaustion at the frontline due to the chaos of the pandemic, exposure to excessive death, too much overtime/not enough time off
  • Expectation to perform at optimum focus and energy, in battlefield like chaos, when such conditions are not included in nursing training (excluding military nurses)
  • Continued inadequate PPE and equipment staging
  • Intensified experiences of bullying and incivility between co-workers
  • Restructuring of lifestyle and childcare needs that include self- isolation from family, living apart, to prevent disease spread
  • Limited options for socializing and self-renewal due to social distancing mandates
  • Insufficient time to onboard and train new nurses putting fledgling career longevity at risk

To help nurses survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Wade founded the Nurse2Nurse Network (, a volunteer community of experienced nurses not serving in the pandemic. Founded in April 2020, the Nurse2Nurse Network provides free mentoring sessions to pandemic-serving nurses, new nursing graduates, and graduating students experiencing the following realities:

  • Daily and cumulative trauma, which increases their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Feelings of being unprepared to meet the challenges of COVID-19
  • Difficulty coping with moral distress because of the previously unimaginable ethical decisions and violations in standards of care due to the pandemic-fueled crisis in hospitals
  • Difficulty coping with social distancing guidelines, separations from family and friends that add to feelings of isolation

The Nurse2Nurse Network provides mentees with someone to listen to their experiences who is emotionally neutral and safe (not family or co-worker) who is non-judgmental and empathic, and who provides encouragement, and reinforcement of resilience and self-care strategies.  

Even before COVID-19, national surveys of nurses conducted by AMN Healthcare showed that the main complaint nurses have about their jobs is its negative impact on their health.

In 2019, 66% of nurses reported that they worried their job was negatively affecting their health, up from 55% in the 2017 survey.  

In addition to career guidance, Career Clarity for Nurses, provides a new framework, based in the sciences of resilience and positive psychology, for how nurses can build their careers and their lives to flourish, optimizing their well-being, even as they go through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Karen Wade designed the process described in Career Clarity for Nurses from three major elements of her life: her experience as a travel nurse working in different facilities around the country, her expertise as a psychologist in executive coaching and program design, and her lived experience recovering from the tragic death of her young adult son in 2011. Using both science and life experience, Dr. Wade takes the reader through seven steps designed to be lived over seven weeks. The end of the journey produces a clear career vision to flourish in nursing, to follow their passion into another field, or a combination of both.

The Career Clarity for Nurses journey includes developing skills known to increase wellbeing:

  • using one’s signature strengths, gratitude, and intentionally creating positive emotional experiences to balance the depleting emotions
  • turning strained relationships with colleagues into supportive ones
  • harnessing emotional intelligence to manage stress, and
  • accessing the wisdom of the body

The promise of Career Clarity for Nurses: Navigating Nursing through Challenging Times is that the reader will embrace a fulfilling career vision, know their next steps, and feel inspired and re-energized.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Karen Wade, PhD, RN-BC, please call Nickcole Watkins at (516) 900-5674 or Tina Koenig at (954) 989-3338.

Q & A with Karen Beck Wade PhD, RN-BC

  1. Are there enough nurses licensed in the United States to get us through this crisis?
  • In spite of the extraordinary demand for nurses, in other places nurses are being laid off. Why is that?
  • What are the enrollment levels at nursing schools?
  • What are nurses paid? Do you think it is enough? How do you assess how much is enough?
  • Should nurses receive hazard pay? How much is hazard pay?
  • Please describe some of the trauma-related symptoms that you’re hearing about from your nurses?
  • How is the Nurse2Nurse Network helping nurses? What feedback are you receiving?
  • Describe three of the strategies in your book that nurses can use for self-care.
  • Tell us why you wrote this book.

COVID-19 General Questions

Can you share some experiences you’ve heard from nurses working on the front lines during the pandemic?

How has your thinking about COVID-19 and nursing changed during the pandemic?

How much better are nurses in treating COVID-19 today versus at the beginning of the pandemic?

About the Author

Dr. Karen Wade ( is an organizational psychologist and a registered nurse certified in psychiatric mental health nursing. She is the Founder of Nurse2Nurse Network (, a free service that provides compassionate listening and support by experienced nurse mentors to nurses working in the COVID-19 environment. She is a coach and trainer in the areas of career clarity, leadership development, and positive organizational culture. Dr. Wade currently resides on California’s central coast.

Facebook professional page:


Instagram: @drkarenwade 

More About This Title

Career Clarity for Nurses: Navigating Nursing Through Challenging Times by Karen Beck Wade, PhD, RN-BC, will be released by Morgan James Publishing on September 1, 2020. Career Clarity for Nurses—ISBN: 9781631951817 — 158 pages, trade paperback for $14.95.

About Morgan James Publishing

Morgan James publishes trade quality titles designed to educate, encourage, inspire, or entertain readers with current, consistent, relevant topics that are available everywhere books are sold.

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