Laugh, cry, learn, and share at Ethics Book Club

24 Nov bookclub


By Sue Kreitz, Chair of MNA Ethics Committee

You’re invited to participate in a book club dedicated to reading and discussing the many ethical issues that RNs and other healthcare workers face every day.

MNA’s Ethics Committee Book Club meets five times a year to have some heartfelt conversations about ethics.

It gives you the chance to read some great books and occasionally even meet the authors who have joined our meetings in person or through Skype.

Our next book club is Dec.1.

We chose Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between.


This book was written by a former English professor, Theresa Brown. In this memoir, Brown recounts experiences from her first year as an oncology nurse. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times blog, “Well,” and As a writer, she was looking for a change in her career to give her something more fulfilling in her life.  Her choice was bedside nursing.

  • “In her journey in the life of critical care, she has opened new doors of what it is like being a nurse. She describes how it feels to be delivering patient care, the frustration of giving bad news to a parent regarding a poor diagnosis of their child, learning to work with so many different medical personalities both nurses and doctors. Many frustrations of medicine in finding the right diagnosis and treatment for so many issues. With great compassion and her disarming sense of humor, she shares the trials and triumphs of her patients and comes to realize that caring for a patient means much more than simply treating a disease. Deeply moving and at times, sobering, Critical Care sheds light on the issues of mortality and meaning in our lives. This is a well written account of a nurse’s first year in medicine, a medical memoir that combines lyricism and compassion with honesty and well-timed laugh out laugh wit! This book offer a” palpable testimony that nurses are the first responders and primary healers in our times of crisis.” This is a quote from Dr. Mehmet Oz, Author of YOU: The Owner manual health series.

Before each book club meeting, one of the Ethics Committee members shares some background on the book to help spark conversation about how the book fits in with ethical nursing concerns in our practice.  It’s not too late to grab our December book and read it before our book club on Dec. 1!

The meetings are at the MNA office at no charge for members. A light dinner is include in your registration. Non-MNA members pay a  $10 fee for the event.

We hope to see you at our book club! Please join us on Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 5-7 p.m. at the MNA office, 345 Randolph Ave. Suite 200, Saint Paul, MN 55102!

If you can’t make it Dec. 1, here’s the list of books for 2016:

Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys, and the Medical Industry’s Quest to Manipulate Height by Susan Cohen and Christine Cosgrove (2009): Tuesday, Feb. 16

Hiding in the Open: A Holocaust Memoir by Sabina Zimering (2001): Tuesday, April 19

America’s Bitter Pill by Stephen Brill (2014): Tuesday, Aug. 16

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (2014): October 2016 (actual date, time, location TBD).

The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens by E. Fuller Torrey (2008, 2012): Tuesday, Dec. 6

We look forward to exploring important ethical concerns that affect you and our profession in 2016!

Apply for MN Board of Nursing, other public service opportunities

4 Nov Minnesota_State_Capitol

MNA Political Organizer, Geri Katz

By Geri Katz, MNA Political Organizer

Have you ever thought about serving the public beyond your day-to-day job? Applying your nursing expertise to public service in order to make the public safer in different health care settings throughout Minnesota?

The State of Minnesota is always looking for interested and engaged citizens to serve on state boards and councils. Several have designated positions for RNs.

The one most nurses are most familiar with is the Minnesota Board of Nursing, which protects the public’s health and safety through regulation of nursing education, licensure and practice.

Two RN positions, one APRN position, and one LPN position, on the Board of Nursing will open up in 2016. Governor Dayton will fill those positions. The time commitment, approximately 150‐175 hours annually, includes monthly meetings in St. Paul and ad hoc committee meetings.

Several other board or council vacancies call for an RN or a union member as well. Here’s the full list:

  • Minnesota Board of Nursing: two RN positions, one APRN position, one LPN position;
  • Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force: “professionals with expertise in maternal and child health services;”
  •  Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities: one nurse representative;
  • Minnesota e-Health Advisory Committee: one nurse representative;
  •  Medical Services Review Board: one Registered Nurse Alternate;
  • Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Council (Appointed by Commissioner of Labor): two labor members, one Occupational Health professional;
  • Occupational Safety and Health Review Board: one labor member;
  • Public Employees Retirement Association: one retired annuitant;
  •  State Advisory Council on Mental Health: one Registered Nurse.

These are all appointed positions, some of which will be competitive. MNA staff can help you through the application process if you want a chance to serve.

They are all great opportunities to put your nursing experience to work in a new setting, learn more about how state government affects nursing and health care, and be a part of the team that makes decisions about our future.

If you are interested in learning more about any of these opportunities to serve the public, please contact Geri Katz.

MNA congratulates 2015 award honorees

9 Oct winnersgroup

The Minnesota Nurses Association honored members and friends who advocated for nurses, patients, our communities, and the nursing profession in the last year at our annual Honors and Awards Banquet on October 5.

Congratulations to all!




Minnesota Hospitals Reduce Charity Care, Increase Profits

30 Sep patients over profits picket

Mat Keller headshot

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

We all knew big insurers would benefit as more individuals sign up for health insurance under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. What is surprising to me, at least, is just how much Minnesota hospitals are profiting as well.

In the latest sign of sickness in the corporate healthcare world, the Minnesota Department of Health reports that our hospitals have reduced the amount of charity care they provide to our sickest and poorest citizens by 22.4 percent.

Much of this decrease is driven by a sharp increase in the number of patients with health insurance across the state — up to 94.1 percent, an all-time high.

Hospitals, as they reduce their charitable care, should pass those cost savings on to their patients and communities. They should allow more patients to qualify for charitable care. They should increase the quality of care they provide through appropriate nurse staffing. They should engage their communities in public health outreach.

Instead, our non-profit hospitals are pocketing the money, giving it out as bonuses, spending it on advertising and branding, building the latest and greatest waterfall in the lobby. Enough is enough.

Charitable care forms the backbone of our societal contract with our non-profit hospitals — we grant them tax exemptions, and in return, we expect that they will strive to help the sickest and poorest among us in a charitable manner. It might be time to re-examine that contract.


MNA Executive Director Rose Roach on AM950

25 Sep IMG_1310

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Listen to MNA Executive Director Rose Roach talk about nursing and health care on @AWomansPlaceMN @AM950Radio.  Or listen below.  mp3 player required.

#nursesunite against The View

21 Sep 2

What did we learn from the controversy around The View and Miss America contestant Kelley Johnson?  That #nursesunite, and they mean business.

Minnesota hospitals’ income soars

18 Sep dollar steth

Mat Keller headshot

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

In yet another sign that Minnesota Hospitals are using the myth of a Minnesota “nursing shortage” in order to avoid appropriate nurse staffing, the Star Tribune recently reported that our 10 largest hospital systems “saw operating income jump by 38 percent in fiscal 2014 compared with the previous year.”

These healthcare systems reported sparking income growth by “putting the brakes on hiring.”

In particular, North Memorial Medical Center saw its highest net profit margin since 2006 (and yet is currently laying off RNs); the Mayo system reported a 1 percent decline in salary and benefit costs while experiencing a 36 percent increase in revenue (complaining of a nursing shortage and cutting pensions the whole time); Sanford reported eliminating positions through attrition (while also reportedly purposefully staffing 10 percent under grid in order to cut costs); and HCMC, a 472-bed facility, added the equivalent of only 38 full-time positions.

Meanwhile, nurses continue to report unsafe nurse staffing in record numbers.

Since August of last year, MNA nurses have submitted 2,802 Concern for Safe Staffing forms, indicating situations in which staffing is so bad patient safety is at risk.

Minnesota Hospitals: bragging about enormous jumps in profit obtained through unsafe staffing all the while jeopardizing the safety of our patients.

The time for a Safe Patient Standard law is now.

Patients and Nurses at the Minnesota State Fair

20 Aug

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Mandatory overtime: just say no

17 Aug Nurse exhausted after long shift. Isolated on white.

Mat Keller headshot

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist


“If you don’t stay and work extra, who will take the admission that’s coming?  There’s no one else.”

Sound familiar?

If you’ve been told by your nurse manager that you must work “mandatory” overtime, don’t buy it!  Under Minnesota state law, nurses cannot be disciplined for refusing overtime if, in the nurse’s judgment, it would be unsafe for the patient.

Study after study show that unplanned overtime assignments have a high potential to be unsafe. Working more than 10 hours in a given day, when unplanned, results in lower quality of care, higher RN burnout, decreased patient satisfaction, and increased errors.

Whether the overtime is planned or unplanned does make a difference: we plan to get extra sleep, bring an extra meal, and mentally prepare when we know overtime is coming; when it’s not, we’re caught between pleasing our supervisor and doing what’s best for the patient.

What happens if your nurse manager tells you that if you do not accept an overtime assignment, you are abandoning your patients?  Again, don’t buy it!

Generally speaking, patient abandonment occurs when a nurse leaves a patient without handing off that patient’s care to another nurse.  If you refuse mandatory overtime for the purposes of protecting your patients, you will need to hand off the care of your patients to another RN, which can include your nurse manager (i.e. give report).  Remember that under the language of the overtime law, healthcare facilities are forbidden from reporting nurses who refuse mandatory overtime to the Board of Nursing.

When employers ask for or “mandate” overtime, it means the hospital is desperately short of staff.  Accepting overtime assignments enables and perpetuates this unsafe staffing by allowing hospital administration to get away with not hiring enough nurses.  So, the next time you’re asked to take on mandatory overtime, just say no.


National Nurses United endorses Bernie Sanders for President

13 Aug 20458660002_41a24f44af_k

National Nurses United this week endorsed the U.S. Presidential candidate who agrees with nurses’ values and is an ardent advocate for issues important to the nursing profession, like expanding Medicare, the Robin Hood Tax to ensure Wall Street pays its fair share, and proper safety and protections from infectious diseases for nurses and patients.

National Nurses United announced on August 10 the endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for President at a “Conversation with Bernie” at NNU’s national offices in California.  Hundreds of RNs cheered Sanders on at the California event, and thousands more watched on live stream at 34 watch parties in 14 states, including Minnesota.

“I have spent my career fighting for something that I consider to be a human right,” Sanders told the crowd. “That human right is health care.”

He said it’s time for a Medicare for All single-payer health care program in the U.S.

“We have got to move toward a health care system which is based on providing quality care to all of our people rather than worrying about the profits of the insurance companies,” he said. “We have got to move toward a health care system which ends the absurdity of Americans paying, by far, the highest price for prescription drugs in the world.”

MNA President Linda Hamilton had the honor of being one of the NNU members introducing Senator Sanders. Hamilton said the members she represents are looking forward to issue-based discussions in the campaign. She said Senator Sanders will address the real problems that patients and the country face.

According to NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro,  NNU has adopted a call to Vote Nurses Values – Caring, Compassion, Community.

“Nurses take the pulse of America, and have to care for the fallout of every social and economic problem – malnutrition, homelessness, un-payable medical bills, the stress and mental disorders from joblessness, higher asthma rates, cancer, heart ailments and birth defects from environmental pollution and the climate crisis,” she said. “Bernie Sanders’s prescription best represents the humanity and the values nurses embrace.”



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