Report: Why 2,400 Minnesota nurses left bedside jobs in the last year

In a new report, the Minnesota Nurses Association shares why over 2,400 nurses in the state left bedside positions over the last year.

Why We Left: 2023 Nursing Workforce Report” identifies chronic under-staffing, hospital management, and other working conditions as the top issues driving nurses away from bedside care. In a roundtable discussion at the Minnesota State Capitol Monday, nurses who retired early or left full-time bedside care positions shared stories of their experiences, including why they left and what needs to change to draw nurses back and retain them at the bedside.

The report was compiled from responses from nearly 500 nurses who left a bedside position within the past year, and did not take a new position in an MNA-represented hospital. The survey found that the number one issue identified by nurses as the top factor driving them from the bedside was insufficient staffing, followed by stress or “burnout,” management issues, and other working conditions.

Responding nurses overwhelmingly cited concerns with insufficient staffing and unresponsive management as the top factors driving them out of the profession. Of those who identified stress or so-called “burnout” as a driving factor in their departure, nearly 82% also cited short staffing concerns, 71% also cited working conditions, and 52% also cited management concerns. In comparison, just 1% of respondents considered the COVID-19 pandemic to be the top issue which drove them away from hospital bedside care.

Nurses also identified the number one change needed for them to return to the bedside as improved staffing. Fewer than one in five nurse respondents indicated that they would not return to the bedside even if improvements were made, which includes those nurses who have retired. That means approximately 2,000 Minnesota nurses are ready to return to the bedside if conditions improve. Nurses responding to the survey ranged from those newer in their positions to those with many years of experience. In the survey, 39% of nurses who left their positions had been in them less than two years, and 38 percent had been in their positions for five years or more.

Other highlights of the new report include:

  • There is no shortage of registered nurses in Minnesota, with more than 122,000 nurses now registered here, the highest ever recorded and an increase of more than 12,000 in the past four years.
  • In nearly 90% of cases where nurses filed a concern over the impact of short staffing on patient care, the nurses reported no response or inadequate action from hospital management.
  • In a survey of MNA nurses who left their bedside nursing positions, the top-cited reasons were stress and “burnout” (75%), chronic under-staffing (71%), working conditions (63%) and management issues (49%). Of these, nurses identified short staffing as the top singular issue which pushed them out of bedside care.
  • Over 75% of MNA members indicated their desire to stay at the bedside for the near future; of nurses who left the bedside last year, improved staffing is the number one change needed to bring them back to hospital bedside care, cited by 63% of nurse respondents.

The full report includes additional data and survey responses.