COVID-19 Impacts on Social Work and Nursing Now and into the Future: National Administration Plans

Aug 24, 2021

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[Note: Below is an excerpt from an article in the most recent issue of the journal Health & Social Work, co-published by NASW and Oxford University Press. The article was written by Ethan J. Evans, PhD, MSW, assistant professor; Nassrine Noureddine, EdD, MSN, associate professor; Susanna R. Curry, PhD, MSW, assistant professor; and Kisun Nam, PhD, MSSW, associate professor, Division of Social Work, California State University, Sacramento. This article is free to be read on the Oxford University Press website.]


Social workers and nurses are experiencing acute levels of stress during the pandemic. This stress is due to the difficulty of providing services to clients who are in states of crisis, while simultaneously experiencing COVID-19-related trauma in their own lives. As current professionals report burnout and exhaustion, students training for these professions are also experiencing adverse impacts. For professions already seeing worker shortages before the pandemic, this complicates the path toward filling unmet needs in the workforce (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2020; Spurlock, 2020). Moreover, it could compromise progress toward the so-called triple aim in health care—enhancing patient experience, improving population health, and reducing costs—(Berwick, Nolan, & Whittington, 2008). Care team well-being is a prerequisite for the triple aim, thus calls for an expanded version—the quadruple aim—which would include provider well-being and prevention of burnout (Bachynsky, 2020; Batcheller, Zimmermann, Pappas, & Adams, 2017; Bodenheimer & Sinsky, 2014). In this column, we present recent research on the stress being felt among social workers and nurses on the existing workforce shortages and discuss the pressure experienced by students who hope to join these fields. We conclude with a preview of measures presented by the Biden–Harris administration to support colleges and universities and particular efforts to replenish the health care workforce as disruption caused by the pandemic evolves.


To read the whole article, please follow this link.


The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & SchoolsHealth & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.