Healthcare Workforce Turnover Surges in the Wake of the Pandemic


A recent study published in JAMA Health Forum has revealed a concerning trend of increased turnover in the healthcare workforce following the Covid-19 pandemic. The research, conducted by Karen Shen, Ph.D., and her colleagues from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s state unemployment insurance records to assess the number of workers leaving and entering the healthcare sector during the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic periods.

The study found that during the first quarter of 2020, there were approximately 18.8 million individuals working in the healthcare industry. However, with the onset of the pandemic, there was a notable increase in the rate at which healthcare workers were leaving their positions. Comparing the data from 2018 to the first quarter of 2020, the exit rate rose from an average of 5.9 percentage points to 8.0 percentage points. Furthermore, even throughout the fourth quarter of 2021, the exit rates remained elevated, with a rate 7.7 percentage points higher than the 2018 baseline.

The rise in healthcare worker exit rates was predominantly attributed to individuals leaving for nonemployment in the first quarter of 2020, which saw a staggering 78% increase compared to the baseline. However, by the fourth quarter of 2021, the exit rate was dominated by workers leaving for employment in non-healthcare sectors, showing a 38% increase. This shift suggests a significant turnover of healthcare staff during the post-pandemic period.

Given the concerning findings, the study authors emphasize the need for policy interventions to address healthcare worker burnout and improve the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals. The impact of the pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on healthcare workers, with increased workloads, prolonged stress, and limited resources putting tremendous pressure on an already strained workforce. Consequently, implementing strategies to combat burnout and enhance hiring pipelines is essential to ensure the sustainability and quality of healthcare services.

These findings shed light on an important issue that healthcare organizations and policy makers must address. The turnover and burnout of healthcare workers not only lead to a loss of experienced professionals but can also negatively impact patient care. It is crucial to prioritize the well-being and support of healthcare workers as they continue to play a pivotal role in the ongoing battle against the pandemic and beyond.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it