I love nursing, but last week, I quit my job for the second time in six months. Sadly, my story as a new nurse is not uncommon. I’m less than three years into my career, and I’m considering taking a leave because of the lack of safe work environments. This is is why bedside RNs need a nurse-to-patient ratios law in Maine. We nurses are advocating for what we all want: safe and effective health care.

In 2021, I started as a new graduate bedside nurse at Maine Medical Center in the float pool. In that role, I could be “floated” to work in the medical-surgical units, telemetry units, the emergency department and the geriatric psychiatric unit. I was also a preceptor to several students and new nurses, helping to train the next generation of RNs. I often worked as a charge nurse on one of the med-surg units.

As a new grad RN, I experienced intense moral distress when management told me that sometimes the best we can do is to keep all of the patients alive for a shift. Management said that’s excellent work given the staffing circumstances. Exhaustion and physical illness were regular consequences of the volume of labor and lack of time to eat, drink and use the restroom. I always spoke up about these things tactfully to my managers and asked for help every shift.

I felt bullied and dismissed by the administrators of the hospital, who refused to discuss RN-to-patient ratios at the bargaining table with our Maine State Nurses Association bargaining team. While I worked in an in-patient unit at Maine Medical Center, there were instances of patients shouting from multiple rooms, preventable falls, and the smell of stool we didn’t have time to clean off the floors and walls.

After two years at the bedside, I quit my job doing the work I love. I have since started another nursing position and left again because of unrealistic care provision expectations. Now, I face a lapse in health insurance while I figure out my next move, and I’m still responsible for paying back my nursing student loans. I’m looking for a nannying job because I need a break from carrying the unsafe patient experience on my back.

Maine nurses need meaningful support in the form of legislation, and that’s a real possibility with L.D. 1639 now passing in the Senate. Our dedication to this bill has been the most healing work I’ve ever done.


I testified before the labor committee in favor of the nurse-to-patient ratios bill last year when an administrative RN said in her opposing testimony that nurses who leave the bedside just don’t have what it takes to make it. I left Maine Med with an award for an exemplary code stroke pathway and a 2023 nomination by the float pool manager for a rising star award. I was a bright and willing new grad nurse. It is a shame that my in-patient nursing experience was so scarring.

Nursing is not a profession I can recommend in good conscience without statewide mandated nurse-to-patient ratios. We need Maine to regulate our hospitals, because the quality of our health care is a shared responsibility and it is not fair to ask nurses to sacrifice themselves to create quality health care in an unsafe environment. We are so tired.

Many of us are fighting to make a living in our very expensive hometowns in Maine. We want to use our degrees and follow our calling to be a nurse. Please help nurses make meaningful changes in our health care system that we all agree could use some TLC. This is first and foremost is a patient safety issue, and we all have a say. All nurses want is to give patients the care they deserve.

Please contact your local representative and urge them to vote to pass L.D. 1639.

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