As more states, private employers, and large healthcare systems institute policies to encourage vaccinations, many reluctant employees are finally getting the shot in order to protect their jobs. However, a notable percentage of the population would prefer to lose their jobs rather than get what they view as a potentially dangerous injection.

This is a particularly murky problem when it comes to healthcare workers, who interact with some of the most vulnerable members of the population and also have such a specific set of job skills. We surveyed over 300 healthcare workers who have quit their jobs due to the vaccine mandates to find out how they planned to move forward in their careers.

We discovered that:

  • 26% of these healthcare workers will choose to leave the field entirely
  • Of those who plan to remain in healthcare, 79% say they are having a hard time finding a job that does not require them to get the vaccine
  • 75% of those staying in healthcare have considered moving to find a job without a vaccine mandate, with nearly a third saying Florida would be their state of choice

26% Plan to Leave the Healthcare Field Entirely

Of the healthcare professionals we surveyed who have quit due to vaccine mandates, more than one in four say they plan to leave the healthcare field for what they believe to be greener pastures. It’s worth noting that even professions requiring a major investment into education report leaving the field in striking numbers. 20% of respondents identifying as doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants say they will leave the field, along with 25% of nurses, 38% of nursing assistants, 35% of home health aides, and 16% of lab technicians.

Forty-nine percent say they’ve decided to leave because they are burned out from caring for patients during the pandemic, which is an interesting discrepancy in reasoning given that survey respondents are likely against vaccination. Forty-eight percent also stated that they are leaving the field because it is too difficult for them to find a job in healthcare that doesn’t require the vaccine.

43% of Healthcare Workers Leaving the Field Will Go Back to School

In order to pursue a different profession after leaving their jobs as healthcare providers, 43% say they plan to go back to school in at least some capacity. This makes sense when you consider how specialized most healthcare workers have to be, and the fact that 37% of respondents stated that they didn’t think their previous skills would transfer well into a new industry.

The top industries that our respondents say they plan to switch to are business (22%), tech (12%),  service/hospitality (11%), and education(11%).

79% Staying in the Industry Are Having Trouble Finding a New Job

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the number of states and healthcare systems instituting vaccine mandates, an overwhelming majority of respondents who plan to stay in the healthcare field say that they are having trouble finding a job that doesn’t require them to be vaccinated.

Sixty-two percent even say that they have considered taking a lower-paying job in order to find employment in the field that will allow them to stay unvaccinated.

3 out of 4 Providers Staying in the Field Have Considered Moving to Stay Unvaccinated

Seventy-five percent of the healthcare workers who plan to stay in the industry also said that they’ve thought about moving in order to find a job that doesn’t require the vaccine.

This number is even higher when looking just at respondents who identified as doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, at 85%. This makes sense, as these highly-skilled professions would be less likely to give up their careers than employees who haven’t given a similar time and financial investment.

Florida Would be the Preferred Location for Majority of Movers

When asked where they would consider moving to find a job in healthcare not requiring the vaccine, 31% of respondents said that Florida would be their state of choice, a much higher percentage than any other. Though Florida does require vaccinations for most healthcare workers, Governor DeSantis continues to fight mandates, making it a safer bet than many other states for healthcare workers resisting vaccines.

Though many are deciding to cut their losses, most healthcare workers who oppose vaccine mandates seem willing to take their chances elsewhere. The majority say they’ve considered uprooting their lives and moving states to be able to find a job in their field that won’t make them get vaccinated. This is especially true for the positions that require the most education, such as doctors and physician assistants. However, 25% plan to start fresh by switching industries and going back to school, though a notable percentage are worried that their skills won’t transfer.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish between October 26 and November 11, 2021. In total, 321 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to meet strict demographic and screening requirements to ensure they were healthcare professionals who quit their jobs due to vaccine mandates. 39% of participants left their positions within the past month, 27% left two to three months ago, 18% four to six months ago, and 16% more than six months ago.

46% of participants worked in hospitals, 21% in clinics or medical offices, 17% in long-term care, 12% in at-home care, and 4% in other settings. 30% of those surveyed identified their previous position as a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, 23% as a medical assistant or certified nursing assistant, 23% as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, 9% as a home health aide, 6% as a lab technician, and 9% as any other position.

For full survey results, please contact Heidi at [email protected].