I come from a family of nurses. Being a caregiver is embedded in my DNA. I come from a family of nurses, but if my child told me they were considering following in my footsteps, I would discourage them from becoming a nurse and have them seek a less stressful and safer profession.

Every day I see signs that the health care system is collapsing around me. There is an insurmountable shortage of nurses and other crucial health care professionals. In New Mexico and across the country, many qualified health care workers are unwilling to work in the unsafe conditions caused by understaffing.

According to a state workforce analysis conducted by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, there are over 5,000 licensed RNs living in New Mexico who aren’t currently practicing. The unsafe working conditions and catastrophic staffing levels are driving people out of our profession in droves. Every day that I go to work, I receive notice that yet another of my peers is leaving. I’ve watched as entire departments have 100% turnover. I see entire floors staffed by traveling nurses because there is no plan to either recruit or retain the needed staff.

This year, our state is leading the charge on demanding what is needed to provide the level of patient care that New Mexicans deserve. House Bill 236 creates a “staffing advisory committee” to examine the unique needs of our hospitals and takes a collaborative approach to establishing ratios based on research, best practices and stakeholder input.

I love my profession, but it often feels like it does not love me back. By passing House Bill 236, we will have a powerful recruitment tool on our side — safe staffing levels.

Jennifer Heckwine

Rio Rancho