Nursing on the frontlines

A nurse works on a computer in a hospital room.
A nurse works on a computer while assisting a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong | AP 2020

When 15,000 Minnesota nurses went on strike for three days earlier this month, it spotlighted a growing national problem: nurses feel overworked, burned out, and underpaid.

Nurses are exhausted from working on the front lines during the pandemic. But even before COVID, nurses were grappling with sicker patients, new technologies and increasing workplace demands. 

Recent data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development shows nursing vacancies doubled from 2,450 in 2019 to 5,587 in 2021. That left eight percent of jobs unfilled.

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with two nurses about the stress their colleagues have been feeling on the job, why some nurses are retiring early or quitting and what needs to change to bring new nurses into the profession. 

Guests: 

  • Laura Fero is the dean of nursing at St. Catherine University. 

  • Kelley Annas is a registered nurse in the Twin Cities.

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