Survey Paints Dire Picture of State's Nurses


Twenty percent of Massachusetts-based nurses intend to leave the field in two years or less, citing deteriorating quality of care delivered in hospitals, understaffing, low pay and other challenges, according to survey results released Monday.

Eighty percent of registered nurses (RNs) say the quality of care has worsened in the past two years, and 49 percent say it's "gotten much worse," according to the survey from the Massachusetts Nurses Association that coincides with the start of National Nurses Week. Direct care community hospital nurses are feeling the staffing crunch most acutely, the survey says.

Beacon Research, which conducted the survey on behalf of the nurses union, polled 510 RNs -- the majority of whom are not MNA members -- from Feb. 27 through March 11.

"Registered nurses across the Commonwealth continue to have a bleak outlook on the state of care in hospitals," the survey states. "They see an ongoing deterioration of conditions and don't think hospital management or lawmakers are listening to their concerns or doing enough to protect the quality of patient care."

The majority of bedside nurses reported not having time to provide care and attention to their patients, needing to care for too many patients at one time, not having enough beds for all patients, and inadequate pay.

A quarter of nurses say they were aware of a patient's death due to the care load. Nearly 40 percent of nurses said they wouldn't feel safe admitting a family member to the unit where they work.

Of the one in five nurses who plan to leave the profession, 37 percent said they are departing because of burnout, exhaustion or lack of support from employers, an 11 percentage point increase compared to last year. Boosting salaries is the top way employers can retain nurses, followed by limiting how many patients can be seen at once, according to the survey.

Three-quarters of nurses say lawmakers are not taking action to resolve "unsafe staffing levels in hospitals." MNA said nurses "will be flooding the State House" on Wednesday to urge the Legislature to tackle the "growing nursing/patient safety crisis."

Just over 60 percent of nurses say that hospital administrators are not responsive to their feedback about unsafe staffing levels and patient loads.

"Nurses are clamoring for real solutions to fix the awful conditions that are driving them away from the profession and leaving patients in unsafe, overcrowded environments," Katie Murphy, MNA's president, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, our annual survey shows that healthcare executives and state officials are failing to respond to nurses' concerns."

Nurses who responded to the survey also sounded the alarm about workplace safety.

Some 64 percent of nurses said that workplace violence and abuse is a "serious problem," a similar level compared to last year but a 22 percentage point increase compared to March 2021. Over the past two years, 68 percent of nurses said they personally experienced at once instance of workplace violence or abuse.

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