In caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are experiencing a crisis of emotional highs and lows that will have lasting implications for their professional and personal well-being. As a result, much attention has been focused on nurse burnout, but the range of nurses’ experiences is more nuanced, complicated, and profound. With the recognition that the nursing workforce was already experiencing burnout before the pandemic, this article explores how individuals respond to disasters and the detrimental effects of the repeated surges of critically ill patients, which have led nurses to experience an extended period of disillusionment that includes secondary traumatic stress, cumulative grief, and moral distress. This article describes the range of psychological responses to the COVID-19 pandemic so that nurse leaders can better identify resources and interventions to support nurses.

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