Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2023

Though the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act did not pass due to the Mayo exemption poison pill, MNA was able to push through a few significant provisions from the bill. This bill includes comprehensive workplace violence prevention measures, student loan debt forgiveness for registered nurses and nursing teaching faculty, a study on why nurses are leaving the bedside, and scholarship coverage for childcare for individuals completing registered nurse degree programs.  

What’s Included in the Workplace Violence Prevention Provisions? 

  • This new law improves the workplace violence prevention language that was already in statute by creating stronger requirements for what needs to be evaluated as workplace hazards and risk factors in hospital violence prevention plans created by an action plan committee who is mandated to obtain the active involvement of healthcare workers. 
  • These plans need to include a review process with procedures for investigating worker concerns for all workplace violence incidents and procedures for healthcare workers to submit evidence of conditions that will increase the potential for violence. 
  • This law prohibits retaliation against workers who report workplace violence incidents, threats, and concerns.  Workers are also able to seek assistance and intervention from local emergency services and law enforcement without punitive or retaliatory action taken against them. 
  • Hospitals are now required to provide training to all staff that is developed with healthcare workers and includes cultural competency and equity, diversity, and inclusion training. The training will also ensure that workers know how to communicate and report concerns hospital-wide with information about how concerns will be investigated. Training will be completed before workers complete a shift independently. 
  • As part of its annual review, a hospital must report on the effectiveness of their action plans with evaluations of staffing patterns that are insufficient to address risks of violence as well as any reports of discrimination or abuse that arise from security protocols. This review will be made available to all direct care staff and will be submitted to the MN Commissioner of Health. 
  • The Commissioner will submit a report to the MN legislature each year on workplace violence in hospitals that compiles hospital-specific data. 
  • Hospitals are also required to implement a procedure that allows for any hospital worker to request for more staff when there are concerns about risk of violence and mandates that hospitals maintain data that will be available to the Commissioner of Health upon request for each request the hospital denies.  

What does this mean for nurses? 

Nurses and other direct healthcare workers are now required to be part of the workplace violence prevention plan creation and will be able to provide their concerns and feedback for how the plans are working. There will be better transparency which will hopefully enable better accountability and intervention from the MN Legislature if needed. 

What’s Included in the Nurse Student Loan Forgiveness Programs? 

  1. RN Student Loan Forgiveness: Registered nurses employed by a non-profit hospital in Minnesota and providing direct patient care are eligible to have their monthly student loan payments covered by the State of Minnesota as long as they agree to continue in that role for at least two years. 
  2. Nurse Faculty Loan Forgiveness: Nurses agreeing to a two-year commitment as nurse faculty in a teaching program will be eligible to receive 15% of the average annual educational debt for RNs each year.  

What does this mean for nurses? 

In 2024, nurses who would like to receive student loan forgiveness will complete and return a confirmation of practice form to the Minnesota Department of Health. Nurses who meet the program eligibility requirements will receive an annual loan repayment disbursement that needs to be applied toward student loan debt. The program distribution amounts are determined based on how many nurses apply and how much funding is available for the $10 million allocation provided from the legislature.  

For individuals who agree to teach, they will receive forgiveness that is equal to 15% of the average annual educational debt of graduates in the nursing profession. This disbursement also needs to be applied directly to pay for incurred student loan debt.  

What does the nursing workforce study involve? 

The MN Department of Health (MDH) will complete a study on the state of nursing in Minnesota including why nurses are leaving hospital nurse positions and choosing not to renew their licenses. Hospitals that fail to provide the information requested by the Commissioner of Health on nurse staffing data will be fined.  

What does this mean for nurses? 

Though safe staffing provisions did not pass, this study will provide information data to demonstrate that nurses are leaving the profession due to unsafe and unsustainable working conditions that hospital administrators are not correcting including unsafe staffing and workplace violence. This will enable MNA to push for stronger safe staffing legislation in the future as well as determine if there are other important factors that contribute to why nurses are leaving the bedside. This will provide data to the legislature as well to demonstrate the need for them to act and actually support hospital bedside nurses instead of enabling corporate power to continue to exert its hold and kill safe staffing measures at the Capitol.   

Who qualifies for scholarship coverage of childcare costs? 

For individuals in Minnesota who are nursing assistants and are accepted into a registered nurse degree program, they can currently apply for the Minnesota Department of Human Services Nursing Facility Employee Scholarship Program. However, when the legislation was implemented, the Minnesota Department of Human Services blocked access to scholarship coverage for childcare costs when that person is working and receiving wages. Knowing that the high cost of childcare is often a huge barrier to those in school, MNA worked to pass this provision that ensures all scholarship grantees can access this benefit.  

What does this mean for nurses? 

This enables individuals who better understand the hospital bedside registered nurse career to access important resources which may allow them to complete their nursing degree and join the RN workforce.