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Hundreds of MN nurses come forward and share why they left bedside positions

A report from the Minnesota Nurses Association said 2,400 nurses left within the past year, citing stress/burnout and short-staffing as top reasons for leaving.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A new report from the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) shares why more than 2,400 nurses left bedside positions within the past year and did not take a new position in an MNA-represented hospital.

The report — titled "Why We Left: 2023 Nursing Workforce Report" — consists of survey responses from nearly 500 nurses who left.

The survey found that chronic under-staffing was the No. 1 issue driving nurses away from bedside care, with hospital management and "burnout" as other factors.

Just 1% of the nurses who responded to the survey considered the COVID-19 pandemic as a top issue driving them away from the job.

One nurse shared her reason for leaving the bedside, writing: “There's not enough time and resources to care for patients the way they deserve to be cared for… This causes severe moral injury. I'm not burnt out, I'm morally injured. I loved caring for patients. I would come back to the bedside if the conditions and compensation were safe for all.”

Another nurse wrote that they witnessed turnover like they'd never seen in their whole career as a nurse. The nurse said, "In one year’s time I was at the halfway point on the seniority list. I gave [the hospital] one year, a year I will never get back.”

Highlights of MNA's new report include:

  • In nearly 90% of cases where nurses filed a concern over the impact of short staffing on patient care, the nurses reported no response or inadequate action from hospital management.
  • Over 75% of MNA members indicated their desire to stay at the bedside for the near future; of nurses who left the bedside last year, improved staffing is the number one change needed to bring them back to hospital bedside care, cited by 63% of nurse respondents.

Last month, Minnesota nurses and legislators introduced the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act

The bill would establish two committees at Minnesota hospitals to set "safe staffing levels," limit the number of patients one nurse would safely care for and resolve concerns raised in anonymously submitted staffing forms.

On Monday, the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) released a statement, claiming that if the legislature were to pass the introduced bill, it would have "drastic, negative impacts on patient care, access, and cost, reducing availability of hospital care across the state."

MHA claims proposed staffing mandates would reduce hospital capacity by 15%, threatening care for 70,000 Minnesotans per year. 

"If implemented, these harmful mandates will reduce our ability to provide care, leading to potential unit closures, increased costs, longer wait times for patients, and the loss of vital health care services that communities rely on," Dr. Rahul Koranne, president and CEO of the MHA, said in a statement. 

Becky Nelson, chair of MNA Governmental Affairs Commission, responded, "These things are already happening. The hospitals cannot turn around now and say that, 'Oh, we are concerned about beds' because they're already closing beds. That's the reality."

Even though these nurses cite a staffing crisis as a reason for their departure, MNA also mentioned in their new report that there's "no shortage of registered nurses in Minnesota." 

In fact, the MNA's new report states the state currently has 122,000 registered nurses, the highest ever recorded and an increase of more than 12,000 since 2019.

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