We'll be feeling the pandemic's effects on health care for years to come. One of the most significant is nurse burnout.
A recent survey found a third of nurses said they planned to leave the profession in the next four years. Sixty percent of nurses work in hospitals and the other 40% work in the community.
But without enough nurses, experts point say we will all be feeling the impact when we can't access care. One local foundation is hoping to help reverse the trend.
Applause and a red carpet welcome are not the accolades UCLA registered nurse Christopher Lee is accustomed to.
"It's such an honor to be recognized among so many different nurses," he said.
Lee is among 30 nurses from UCLA Health, City of Hope and Keck Medicine of USC being honored for their passion and dedication.
"We are looking for nurses who have a bias toward action, who have courageous and bold thinking, originality and creative instincts," said Rachel Barchie, Executive Director of the Simms/Manns Institute & Family Foundation.
Every awardee receives $10,000 to do with as they please.
"I wanna do some self care, some shopping, maybe a little vacation," said Salena Agadier, a registered nurse at City of Hope.
"The first thing I wanna do is take a much-needed vacation," said Lisa Johnson, a nurse manager at Keck Medicine of USC.
The goal of the Simms/Mann Institute and Foundation's "Off the Chart" campaign is to demonstrate to nurses how important their work is and how it needs to continue amidst the ongoing nursing exodus.
Barchie said 100,000 nurses have already left during the pandemic.
Another 610,000 nurses said they planned on leaving nursing in the next four years because of stress, burnout or retirement.
"If you don't stem the tide, you're going to lose that expertise that we have right now, who would be the people who would be training those new and up-and-coming people, Barchie added.
During the pandemic, Lee said it became clear that "caring for the caregiver" needed to be a priority.
"Having a well-nurtured, a healthy, a confident nurse - and being well-resourced - that's the key to having the best care for our community," he said.
"We're offering a lot of ways to reduce stress. We have a big employee wellness campaign so we can really keep people at their best," said Johnese Spisso, President of UCLA Health.
"Even though individuals are exiting, I believe that all of the benefits that nursing has to offer will draw a new generation of nurses," said Johnson.
Managers, researchers and administrators. The award showcases all the opportunities available to nurses. And many feel getting such a prestigious honor elevates the profession.
"We're doing great things. We are important in the healthcare system. It's amazing and I think that is going to keep nurses in the field," said Agadier.
It's not just the money, but the message behind it.
"Nursing is valuable. Nursing is worth it and we need to give more," Lee said.