By Khushi Mandowara and Leroy Leo

(Reuters) – Almost a third of the nurses in the United States are considering leaving their profession after the COVID-19 pandemic left them overwhelmed and fatigued, according to a survey.

The survey of over 18,000 nurses, conducted by AMN Healthcare Services Inc in January, showed on Monday that 30% of the participants are looking to quit their career, up 7 percentage points over 2021, when the pandemic-triggered wave of resignations began.

The survey also showed that 36% of the nurses plan to continue working in the sector but may change workplaces.

“This really underscores the continued mental health and well-being challenges the nursing workforce experiences post pandemic,” AMN Healthcare CEO Cary Grace told Reuters in an interview.

The survey showed there are various changes needed, with 69% of nurses seeking increased salaries and 63% of them seeking a safer working environment to reduce their stress.

This comes at a time hospital operator and sector bellwether HCA Healthcare Inc indicated a recovery in staffing situation.

While a shortage of staff in hospitals has been an issue for a couple of years, it gained traction globally in late 2021 and hit a peak early last year following a large number of resignations due to burn out.

The staffing crisis drove up costs at hospital operators, while boosted profits at medical staffing providers such as AMN Healthcare.

(Reporting by Leroy Leo and Khushi Mandowara in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)