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ANA Responds to Defeat Of Massachusetts Ballot Initiative on Nurse Staffing

Shannon McClendon, 301-628-5391

Joan Hurwitz, 301-628-5020

Silver Spring, MD- The following statement is attributable to Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), in response to the outcome of the Massachusetts ballot Initiative on nurse staffing.  Voters rejected the measure, with 70 percent voting against and 30 percent voting in favor of it.

“ANA has long been a strong advocate for appropriate nurse staffing in all health care settings.  We know that providing the right nursing resources makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care.  Many factors affect the number of patients for whom each nurse may safely care for – it’s not just math.  The rigid, one size fits all approach proposed by the ballot initiative failed to acknowledge the complexities of staffing and undermined nurses’ professional autonomy and decision-making in determining staffing on their units.  

Therefore, we are pleased that the Massachusetts voters soundly rejected Question 1. At the same time, the robust debate spurred by the ballot question helped to educate consumers about the importance of nurse staffing and its impact on quality patient care.   We know hospital and nursing leaders across the state are ready to work together to identify a constructive path forward to develop shared solutions and accountability to ensure staffing levels meet the needs of patient populations, and align with nurses’ experience and associated resources. Only when that happens, can victory be declared.

We will continue to work at the national level and with our state nurses’ associations to foster a constructive dialogue with hospital leaders, policymakers and others to develop and implement strategies to achieve appropriate nurse staffing and ensure patients receive the highest quality of care.”

Given the complexities of nurse staffing, ANA has developed Principles for Nurse Staffing and a bipartisan federal legislative proposal that emphasize the role of nurses’ professional input and decision-making in determining nurse-patient staffing.

ANA’s Principles underscores that:

  • nurse staffing is more than numbers
  • one size does not fit all 
  • nurses’ experience, as well as other components of the staffing mix, along with patient acuity, workflow such as volume of admissions, transfers, and discharges, and available resources in the delivery of care, all impact the determination of what is appropriate staffing at any given time
  • patient care needs are fluid – and vary between hospitals, among units in a hospital and across shifts 
  • nurses work as a team; flexibility and teamwork are essential to effectively meet the ever-changing needs of patients. 

About the American Nurses Association

Founded in 1896, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a professional association that represents the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses. All registered nurses are eligible to join ANA. ANA has affiliations with 50 state and constituent nurses’ associations, including ANA Massachusetts. Reflective of the profession, ANA’s membership is inclusive of many roles, including: direct care nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, nurse educators, and nurse managers, who work in a wide range of settings such as acute care hospitals, clinics, long-term care, schools and other settings.  Approximately 50 percent of ANA’s members who hold membership at the state and national level are direct care, staff nurses. 

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