Safe Nurse-Patient Ratios

Posted by Manslegislativechair on February 21, 2018 at 10:25 PM

Patient safety. Your immediate thought was probably not safe nurse-to-patient ratios, and yet it probably should be. Let me guess your next thought. “I’m a student, how does this affect me right now?” While it may not affect the nursing student directly, there are certainly indirect effects; furthermore, the nursing student will only be a student for so long. Eventually, the nursing student will be the nurse. The nurse that, because there are currently no laws (except in California) that limit the number of patients assigned to a nurse, may find him or herself caring for an outrageous number of patients. Not only is this exhausting, it is outright dangerous.

Let’s start with some interesting tidbits. As of today, California is still the only state to have a law that limits patient ratios. There is no similar federal law. California’s law took effect in 2004 and since then, studies have shown fewer deaths,  increased overall job satisfaction, and lower RN burnout rates.

In 2014, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation cited a statistic that almost one out of five new nurses leaves the profession within the first year of gaining licensure as a nurse. And just in case that isn’t bad enough, one out of three leave the profession within two years (Carlson, 2017). We work so hard, make so many sacrifices, and give up too much (time anybody?) to leave the profession within two years. Nursing burnout is serious and unfortunate, and more must be done to prevent it.

Still think it does not affect you? “Shortages of nursing faculty can also limit the number of students accepted into accredited nursing programs,” (Carlson, 2017). You could have been denied admission into the program you are currently in. Someone you know could have to wait an extra semester or two to be admitted into a program.

Now, I hope you are wondering what you can do. To which I say, make your voice heard. Get involved. Join your school’s student nurse association. Join the National Student Nurse Association (NSNA) and consequently the state association--Maryland Association of Nursing Students (MANS). Attend lobby nights or action events, such as the MNA’s: Nurses Night in Annapolis.  & of course, VOTE!


Blitchok, Amy. (January 6, 2017). Proposed Federal RN Ratios - What You Can Do About It. Retrieved from:

Carlson, Keith. (November 1, 2017). Nurse-Patient Ratios and Safe Staffing: 10 Ways Nurses Can Lead the Change. Retrieved from:

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