Over Half of Nurses Consider Leaving Profession Due to Short Staffing, Moral Distress – New National Study


Contact: Sam Fettig
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Lauren Nielsen
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MNA nurses are seeking solutions to staffing and retention in contract negotiations with hospital executives 

(St. Paul) – June 23, 2022 – A new national study released today shows that 51 percent of surveyed nurses considered leaving the profession within the next year, citing short staffing and moral distress as the driving factors. The study of 2,200 registered nurses working in hospitals, conducted Fall 2021, found 95 percent had experienced moral distress, “when they feel that the ethical course of action is not being pursued due to organizational or institutional constraints,” while just 15 percent felt staffing levels in their workplace were safe. Of those who considered leaving the profession, 79.3 percent cited “inadequate industrywide staffing practices” pursued by hospital executives, and 78.8 percent cited moral distress, as the factors driving them to consider leaving the field.

“The crisis of short staffing in our hospitals is driving nurses away from the bedside, and it is past time for the hospital executives who created this problem to step up, come to the table, and negotiate with nurses offering solutions for short staffing and retention in our hospitals,” said Mary C. Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “Our healthcare system is in critical condition. I hope this new report makes clear to our CEOs what nurses have experienced for so long and why immediate action is needed to retain nurses and protect quality patient care at the bedside.”

Study authors also investigated the positive impacts of staffing standards and found that measures such as safe patient limits and staffing committees result in lower rates of moral distress, safer patient loads, and make nurses less likely to consider leaving the profession; study authors also found nurse union membership positively impacted all of these factors.

In Minnesota, nurses with MNA have called for staffing committees of nurses and management to be created at the hospital level to set and enforce safe staffing standards to retain nurses and protect patient care. Nurses advanced this solution in the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, which passed in the Minnesota House this past session but was not taken up by the Minnesota Senate; nurses are now seeking similar solutions to short staffing and retention as 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports bargain with hospital executives for new contracts that put Patients Before Profits.

The results of the new national study follow closely the results of an MNA report released earlier this year which found that 63 percent of MNA nurses had either considered leaving their position or knew someone who had within the last year, while those who did leave bedside nursing jobs identified short staffing and poor hospital management as the driving factors.

Additional information on the new national study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) can be found at this link.


1 Comment

  1. Let’s see, there is an abundance of research that finds lower nurse-per-patient ratios save lives, but hospitals don’t care?

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