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According to the Department for Professional Employees (DPEA), AFL-CIO (2019), right now, 17.5 percent of new registered nurses leave their first nursing job within the first year, and one in three nurses leave their first job within two years and safe staffing may be an effective way to retain experienced nurses, lure those who left the field back, and attract students to the profession”.

“The demands of the nursing profession are forcing many nurses to consider part-time nursing, or alternative careers” (DPEA, 2019).

I became a nurse in California in 2010, so I have a limited view as far as staffing but I do believe the demand on nurses and the amount of expectation is almost beyond our abilities. I have been an ICU nurse throughout my career and I have to say being in a busy trauma center with little resources I could not keep up the full time work schedule and be safe or sane, with nursing ratios. I am now part time and at a Magnet hospital that treats their nurses well. I have severe burn out but with this new hospital and part time I am recovering slowly. I have heard from many new grads, and watched them leave, that they are planning to find their “exit plan”. So the states that do not have law mandated nursing ratios I could not imagine of their frustration.

“In a 2011 survey, close to 45 percent of the surveyed nurses said they planned to make career changes in the next one to three years, with over one-third of those surveyed considering careers outside of nursing” (DPEA, 2019).

In 1999 California implemented a nurse to patient ratio and started fully practicing it in 2004. This allowed studies to be conducted in comparison to other states who are not following California’s ratio recommendations.

“Since it was fully implemented in 2004, research specific to California has shown measurably improved patient outcomes, in line with the broader academic consensus about the positive impact of lowering nurse workloads” (DPEA, 2019).

The DPEA (2019) related a study that was quite impressive:

  • The most comprehensive study of the impact of the law came out in 2010 and compared hospitals in California to hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Researchers found significantly better health outcomes in California, including lower surgical mortality rates, reduced inpatient deaths within 30 days of admission and a lower likelihood of death from failing to properly respond to symptoms.

So the nursing shortage is going to just get worse if hospitals don’t change how they are treating their nurses.


Department for Professional Employees (DPEA), AFL-CIO . (2019). Safe Staffing: Critical for Patients and Nurses. Retrieved from http://…r