Healthcare worker with head in hands

Worker turnover rates in long-term care remain high, despite other healthcare settings returning to pre-pandemic levels. Turnover rates already were highest among long-term care workers before the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in hospitals and ambulatory care settings. But they have continued to increase over time, a new study found.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surveyed more than 127,000 healthcare workers from various settings between 2019 and 2021. It found that turnover rates varied widely across healthcare occupations and gender. Health aides and assistants had the highest turnover rates throughout the period compared to physicians or nurses. Turnover was also higher among women than men and workers of both sexes with young children were more likely to leave their jobs than those without young children. 

The study did not conclude that burnout, school closings and vaccine mandates associated with the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the short-term or long-term trajectory of job losses or resignations. The authors said further research is needed to understand their role in job turnover in the healthcare industry.

Still, burnout has been associated with the shortage of caregivers over the past two years. A survey last year of more than 300,000 healthcare workers by research firm Activated Insights found that burnout among workers across all healthcare continuums increased during the pandemic. Last summer the Department of Health and Human Services  announced $103 million to fund a three-year program that will ensure that healthcare workers have access to mental health services to ease burnout from the pandemic. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. healthcare industry has lost 298,000 jobs or 1.8% of its workforce since the beginning of the pandemic.