ANA president says nursing crisis has reached breaking point

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American Nurses Association president Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, RN, recently penned an op-ed in which the health care leader claimed that the ongoing nurse staffing crisis has hit a major breaking point.

According to the American Nurses Foundation’s Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Survey Series: Annual Assessment Survey, a three-year assessment of over 12,000 nurses completed in Nov. 2022, burnout and workplace violence both remain key issues nationwide.

“The nurse staffing crisis is an urgent pain point for the country’s more than 5 million nurses, for patients, and for the entire health care system,” Kennedy wrote in The Hill. “In the last year, nurses have taken action to demand solutions to insufficient staffing levels, burnout, workplace violence and low wages, at both the state and national level. While this crisis is not new, the proverbial breaking point has arrived.”

Kennedy drew attention to the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act, a piece of federal legislation endorsed by the American Nurses Association. The bill would set minimum nurse-to-patient staffing requirements, empowering nurses that are struggling in an increasingly overwhelming work environment.

“I entered the nursing workforce because of the reward I felt serving patients,” she said. “I hear the same sentiment from nurses I speak with today. Nurses want to provide care, but we are too often overworked and understaffed, leaving us with inadequate time to provide the care patients deserve.

“Appropriate nurse staffing is necessary and achievable. Yet, it will take national, bipartisan support to adequately meet the urgency of the crisis.”

In the end, Kennedy urged lawmakers to see the legislation through.

“Addressing the nurse staffing crisis must not get buried amid the partisan debates and legislative hurdles that lie ahead through the rest of the year,” Kennedy said. “Lawmakers have an opportunity to show constituents and nurses — the country’s largest health care professional workforce — that their health and safety is paramount.”