By Carrie Mortrud, RN
MNA Nurse Staffing Specialist
In August, nurses were informed that at least one major healthcare system employer was about to release results from a project they completed on “National Benchmarking.” This project has resulted in drastic proposed cuts to RNs, NAs, and other staff on most of the inpatient care units. At the same time, nurses up north were experiencing the same circumstances when they rejected unsafe assignments.
In response, MNA members asked for more tools and resources to be made available to nurses while in the middle of a staffing crisis. Nurses wanted a tiny toolkit with information on what to do in the moment and what to do after the fact to hold administration accountable for their terrible and unsafe staffing decisions.
Knowing most nurses do not want 18 individual business cards full of information, MNA staff created an accordion card that can provide numerous resources and references to assist you in rejecting unsafe staffing assignments. It even fits in your badge holder!
RNs reported frequently being challenged by supervisors, managers and directors when nurses stated there were laws regarding overtime, accepting unsafe assignments, patient abandonment, etc. This card was created to give you those references immediately.
- The statute (law) numbers so that you can state exactly which law says you cannot be mandated to work beyond your scheduled shift if patient safety would be at risk if you do.
- A sample statement on how to refuse an unsafe assignment – YOU are NOT refusing to work, but rather refusing to take on additional patients as you are already at capacity with the patients you have or you have not been oriented to the patient or equipment the supervisor is attempting to assign to you.
- References to the Joint Commission, the MN Department of Health and the MN Board of Nursing.
- A space, yes, a small space, for you to write a few phone numbers down to reach out for help when you are being told, “no, there is no one else.” It is the hospital administration’s job to staff the hospital, not the nurses. Hold them accountable to do so.
If you want more education on specific sections of the card, please come to a staffing class hosted and taught by your union. [https://mnnurses.org/resources/education/education-calendar/]
MNA nurse leaders and staff will enforce all applicable and necessary contract language to fight and reject these reckless staffing cuts and, in the meantime, here is a tool to help you keep yourself, your practice and ultimately your patients safe. If you have not received a card yet, talk to your MNA Steward or bargaining unit Chair.