James M. Berklan

One would think 70,000 extra deaths in their midst, constant fear of deadly contamination, ungodly long work hours and the traditional regulatory burden would seal the deal.

Those are just some of the dangerous, typically thankless conditions the nation’s nursing home workers find themselves in regularly nowadays. In other words, “normal” on steroids, thanks to the coronavirus.

It’s enough to make one pack his or her “go” bag and call it a career, or at the very least quit in a fog of depressing dissatisfaction.

Then again, we have to remember we’re talking about nursing home administrators and directors of nursing. Those are two of the hardier lots found anywhere. This week that reminder emerges repeatedly while featuring the McKnight’s Long-Term Care News 2020 Mood of the Market Survey results.

It turns out you need more than the worst public health crisis in more than a century, and the worst clinical crisis to ever hit U.S. nursing homes, to scare off the loyal and devoted top managers of long-term care.

“Astonishing” is how one veteran expert of the provider and compensation world put it. That was his reaction to the still-sky-high levels of job satisfaction expressed by Mood of the Market Survey respondents. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their job. That’s only a few percentage points behind the MOTM survey from pandemic-free 2019.

Another powerful sign of the tenacity from this stressed out, put-upon group? Less than 45% said they had seriously considered quitting their job in the three months prior. That might not sound so hot but consider that surveys of other industries — in non-COVID times, no less — routinely ring in at around 60%.

Perhaps the most impactful finding of the survey so far is that more than 70% of respondents indicated that even with the COVID carnage around, they’re not considering fleeing. There were 28% saying absolutely not more likely to leave the profession, while 29% said “probably not” and another 14% said they had considered it but were not at all sure, the implication being that they’d still be around when things simmered down a bit.

If recent conditions aren’t enough to shake the resilience of this group, what is? Don’t hold your breath for a certain answer. As my math and science buddies might say for one of their experiments, this might involve a null set.

Repeatedly in our research we found that providers’ devotion to the job and their vulnerable residents shined through. Sure, some would like a bigger salaries, better insurance or more paid time off. Who among us wouldn’t?

But the key is, they’re not letting those desires or potential excuses get in the way of getting the job done — under often horrific, nerve-wracking conditions.

Somewhere, some place, some enterprising T-shirt designer or poster maker is going to start pressing garments or banners with this crowd’s motto on the front and make a mint. The defiant battle cry? “Bring it on!”

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.