COVID-19 Impact On Nursing Workforce Will Outlast Pandemic

​Although Oregon’s pandemic state of emergency will end on April 1, the Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN) suggests the pandemic’s impact on the nursing workforce will last much longer. A new OCN research brief estimates it will take between 4.3 and 5.7 years for Oregon’s nursing workforce to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

“We continue to watch multiple trends in the nursing workforce and workforce utilization,” said Jana Bitton, Executive Director. “Most pressing is how will Oregon’s healthcare system respond when professionals working under emergency authorizations can no longer provide services in Oregon.”

In order to respond to pandemic surges and fill vacant positions in hospitals and other care settings, the Oregon State Board of Nursing granted emergency authorizations for nurses licensed outside Oregon to become licensed to work in Oregon. In February 2022, more than 5,000 registered nurses held such authorizations.

In addition to emergency authorizations, OCN continues to monitor the impact of contract/travel nurse employment and look for evidence of Oregon nurses leaving the profession.

“The end of the pandemic does not mean these issues magically go away,” said Bitton. “The nursing workforce will continue to grapple with these issues well past the pandemic. Their cumulative effect may not be known for some time.”

OCN is a nonprofit organization created by nursing leaders in 2002. OCN facilitates research and collaboration for Oregon’s nursing workforce to support informed, well-prepared, diverse and exceptional nursing professionals. Recognized by the Oregon state legislature as a state advisor for nursing workforce issues, OCN fulfills its mission through nurse workforce research, building partnerships, and promoting nursing and healthcare.  

Media Contact:
Jana Bitton, MPA