There are more than five million nurses in the United States, playing a role that is both critical to the American healthcare system and deeply underappreciated. The tumult of the past few years has left the profession in a state of crisis, as recent surveys find that nearly half of all nurses suffer symptoms of overwork and burnout, and nearly a third are thinking seriously of quitting.
At the same time, the upheaval of the pandemic has opened new opportunities for individual nurses as well as the hospitals, clinics, and communities they serve. Our series explores how nurses are working to repair the fabric of a ravaged U.S. health care system and meet the cultural and language challenge of caring for a rapidly diversifying population.
We also look at turf battles between physicians and Nurse Practitioners—who already handle one in four health visits in the U.S.—and look at efforts to address a mental health crisis among nurses themselves. Chronicling crisis and transformation, this four-part series highlights the reality and the potential of nurses as specialists, researchers, policymakers, innovators, public health messengers, and more.