Detroit Today: Michigan’s nurses are facing staffing shortages

With the state currently facing a shortage of nurses, one potential solution that has been raised is creating minimum staffing requirements.

woman in scrubs takes another woman's blood pressure

Last month, state lawmakers announced a series of proposals to address nursing staff shortages in Michigan. One bipartisan bill that is part of the proposals would require hospitals to maintain a minimum level of staffing.

Nurses often provide a majority of medical care in a healthcare system which is already struggling with shortages. According to a recent University of Michigan survey, nearly one in four nurses plan to leave the profession in the next year.

The hope is that by increasing minimum levels of staffing, both nurses and patients would benefit from better working environments and quality of care.

Registered nurse Christopher Friese, Senator Ed McBroom, Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters and registered nurse Jessica Lannon joined Detroit Today to discuss the poor working conditions many Michigan nurses are currently dealing with and how these new proposals could help.

Listen:  The arguments for and against minimum nurse staffing requirements.


Christopher Friese is a registered nurse and a professor of Nursing and Public Health. Friese says the poor working conditions facing nurses aren’t new.

“Candidly, the employers have known about this for over a decade,” says Freise. “Nurses have been very clear on their concerns, and yet their concerns have gone unanswered for a decade.”

Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah) is a senator representing Michigan’s the 38th district, which covers the majority of the upper peninsula. McBroom is one of the sponsors of a bipartisan bill that requires hospitals to improve working conditions and hire a minimum level of staff.

“First we want to create an environment where fewer of them want to quit, fewer of them want to leave the profession,” says McBroom.

Brian Peters is the Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. Peters says mandating nurse staffing ratios is not the solution. Instead, lawmakers should increase access to qualified nurses from other areas.

“We need immigration reform as well so we can bring qualified nurses here to the country,” says Peters.

Jessica Lannon is a registered nurse and a Michigan Nurses Association board memberLannon says that the verbal and physical abuse nurses receive is causing them to leave the profession.

“You don’t get into nursing for the money, clearly. You get into nursing as a public service, and because you want to provide quality care to your patients,” says Lannon. “And when you’re no longer put in a position where you can provide quality care, you start to question your decisions.”

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