THE PROBLEM: Hospital Short-Staffing
Years of conscious short-staffing and cost-cutting by hospital executives have created an unsafe and unsupportive work environment. These decisions have left nurses trying to do more with less. These unsafe and unsustainable working conditions are driving nurses out of the profession, causing still higher workloads for nurses at the bedside.
Despite what hospital CEOs claim, the pandemic did not create the nurse retention crisis. Rather, years of cost-cutting and short-staffing left hospital management poorly equipped to handle the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic only exposed the tragic consequences of the profit-first approach Minnesota hospital executives have pursued for years.
FALSE PROMISE: The Nurse Licensure Compact
As hospital CEOs look to divert responsibility for the staffing crisis they created, they claim there are simply not enough nurses willing to work in Minnesota. But the facts state otherwise. Studies repeatedly show that Minnesota trains enough nurses to meet the needs in our state, which even the Minnesota Hospital Association acknowledges. There is no shortage of nurses who want to care for patients; there is a shortage of nurses willing to work under the unsafe conditions hospitals have created.
Now, Minnesota hospital executives are presenting the Nurse Licensure Compact as a false solution. The compact would open the door to nurses licensed under lower standards to work in Minnesota. Patients would have no way of knowing if the nurse at their bedside has met Minnesota’s high standards for a nursing license or the lower standards of the compact.
Measures to improve nurse recruitment and make nursing education more accessible and inclusive – especially for communities historically underrepresented in the field – are important. But no matter how many new nurses are trained here or recruited from elsewhere, it will not solve the retention crisis hospital CEOs created. Until workplace conditions and staffing are improved, it will not matter how many nurses enter the field if they encounter conditions that make it impossible for them to stay.
DANGEROUS AND DECEPTIVE: Understanding the Compact
The Nurse Licensure Compact would lower nursing standards.
Minnesota produces exceptional nurses who meet a high standard for their nursing license. This proposal could open the door to less-trained hospital staff. The compact could also make it possible for nurses deemed unsafe to work elsewhere to relocate to Minnesota to avoid consequences. The compact creates a ‘race to the bottom’ as states face pressure to lower license standards to remain competitive and retain nursing students.
The compact is an attempt to undermine nurses who worked through the pandemic.
This compact is just another way hospital CEOs are trying to shortchange the nurses who have worked so hard through this pandemic. Rather than honor the hard work and sacrifice of Minnesota nurses, they would rather bring in lesser-trained nurses from other states. Already, hospital executives are paying far more to temporary, out-of-state travel nurses than to their own Minnesota nurses, further increasing the cost of healthcare. Those on the frontlines need a safe and supportive work environment, not reckless experimentation, back-door deregulation, and out-of-state competiti
The compact puts more power in the hands of corporate healthcare giants.
Hospitals produce millions of dollars in revenues for investors and executive pay, a trend that has only continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. This focus on the bottom line in healthcare has contributed to rising prescription drug costs, costs of medical care, and skyrocketing medical debt. Rather than seek solutions that put communities and workers ahead of revenues, the compact would sign over more power from the public to a private body dominated by corporate healthcare executives and big pharmaceutical companies. Those responsible for the crisis of rising healthcare costs should not be given more power over the standards, compensation, and working conditions of nurses.