Nurse Staffing Ratios

Over the past number of years there has been a nursing shortage which has led to the need of more registered nurses in the hospital setting. This is due to the uprising acuity of patient care and a decrease in there overall hospital stay. In order for the patients to get safe and quality care, the staffing, education and experience of the nursing staff needs to be made a priority. Not only has the safety and quality of patient care suffered, the working conditions in hospitals have also got worse due to the hospitals not keeping up with increase demand of nurses (Welton, 2007).

Hospitals that don’t have adequate staffing tend to have an increased rate of negative patient outcomes. Some of these negative outcomes that are potentially caused by the decrease in nursing care are shock, pneumonia, cardiac arrest and urinary tract infections (Stanton, 2004). This has led to state legislatures adding mandatory laws that promote adequate staffing regardless of the severity or acuity of the patients. The additional costs that are required to staff the hospitals with additional registered nurses are unfunded which means that staffing can be decreased in other work areas (Welton, 2007).

This shortage is a problem that is affecting not only the patients, but also the staff. Nurse management and leadership play a significant role in finding a balance among all involved. Throughout this paper, the author will be discussing how the managers and leaders play a significant role in the issue of nurse staffing ratios in order to promote quality and safe care for the patients. Also, the author will discuss some tools and skills that are beneficial in supporting the nursing staff and the overall demands in the hospital setting.

Managers and Leaders In every hospital and organization, managers and leaders are both required in order to promote an overall well being and to ensure that all the needs and demands are being met for both patients and staff. Both managers and leaders are responsible in assisting and keeping the hospital or organization running and promoting the organization to continue into the future.

Managers and leaders have different distinct roles, but the ones that are the most effective, are the ones that will combine the roles and functions into their workday everyday. There roles and responsibilities can be similar, but also can be different. A manager can be a leader, but a leader isn’t necessarily a manager (GCU, 2011). Managers A manager should make sure that the resources that are provided to the staff are useful, effective, and helpful.

The manager should ensure that they have the adequate amount of resources and tools in order to complete there work and job. When it comes to the issue of nurse staffing ratios, the manager has the responsibility of making sure that the unit is staffed to meet the demands of the patients and there level of care, or acuity (GCU, 2011). Utilizing there skills in leadership, quality care, people and communication can all be of benefit. Leadership skills, such as leading by example, are necessary for nurse managers.

Quality care skills can be beneficial to gather the necessary data and provide adequate staffing to promote and improve overall performance. People skills are used to interview new employees and hopefully increase staffing for the hospital. Communicating skills are vital for conducting staff meetings and communicating concerns and issues that the nurses may have (Donnelly, 2003). Having this open communication with the nurses and staff can benefit not only the patients, but also the staff. In order for the manager to be effective, they must be consistent.

The manager can make a nurses life easier by advocating for them and assisting them with there job responsibilities and concerns (GCU, 2011). Leaders Leaders are those individuals that help to encourage and promote the growth of a hospital or organization. A leader is one that encourages those around them to move forward, and promote optimal care. Leadership is something that takes work and requires one to know there leadership skills and potential. Knowing yourself, effectively communicating your vision, and building trust with others are all parts of being a great leader.

This is true with nurse staffing ratios, building trust with the other staff can help in them opening up and communicating how they are feeling about there job mentally, emotionally and physically. As the leader, you want to first establish a vision, and see where the patient, staff, and organization would benefit. When discussing the nurse staffing ratio, you could discuss strategies or other resources that would take some of the responsibilities off the nurses’ workload. It is important to listen and encourage the staff to communicate with one another regarding there concerns and patient workload.

This will help the leader have the support when she discusses it with the manager, or administration. There are many barriers when it comes to increasing the staffing, so it can be difficult and take time to see a change happen. Leading by example, motivating and inspiring the other staff are all roles of a leader that can uplift the work environment. As a leader, personal interest, goals and conflicts should not impact the overall goals of the hospital or organization (GCU, 2011). There are times when communication skills are not seen as important compared to other management and leadership skills (Hauser & Preston, 2005).

When interviewing the author of this paper, Maureen Halstead (personal communication, September 14, 2012), she revealed that she is a leader of her nursing unit and focuses a great deal of time on educating the other staff members. “I feel that more emphasis needs to be put on communication techniques because if you’re not communicating effectively with the team, then the end result will not be a positive one” (Maureen Halstead, personal communication, September 14, 2012). She revealed that her idea of effective communication is both verbal and nonverbal.

“Being a good leader, you need to lead by example and carry out that vision effectively on an everyday basis” (Maureen Halstead, personal communication, September 14, 2012). She also feels having the respect and trust from the other staff members is a vital part of being a great leader. Setting up staff meetings to listen and get feedback from all staff members can promote nurse satisfaction, teamwork, and success. Once the issues are addressed, following up and giving feedback can assist in leadership and staff relationship (Maureen Halstead, personal communication, September, 14, 2012).

In conclusion, there has been a great deal of research that has been conducted regarding the issue of nurse staffing ratios and the impact it has on patient outcomes. Nurse staffing in the hospitals is a main concern because of the impact it can potentially have on the safety of the patient and the overall quality of care (Stanton, 2004). This has been a problem that has been ongoing for quite sometime. The understaffing of nurses is not only impacting the patients, but also the entire hospital and organization. Nurse can be overworked which can lead to employee burnout (Welton, 2007).

Both managers and leaders have certain skills that play an important role in the success and growth of the hospital, and both the patient and employee satisfaction. Some of these skills are integrated by both management and leadership. Regardless if one is a leader or manager, they must be aware of what their role is when utilizing their communication skills both in and out of the hospital (GCU, 2011). Being aware of there roles, skills, and resources can help them to lead by example, which is one of the skills that makes a successful manager and leader.

References Donnelly, G. F. (2003). How leadership works: Myths and theories. Five keys to successful nursing management. Philadelphia: Lippincott, William & Wilkins. GCU. edu. (2011). Module 2 Readings. Retrieved on September 13, 2012 from Grand Canyon University website: https://lc. gcu. edu/learningPlatform/user/users. html Hauser, J. L. & Preston, P. (2005). Communication Strategies for Getting the Results You Want. Retrieved on September 13, 2012 from: https://lc. gcu. edu/learningPlatform/user/users. html Stanton, M. W. (2004).

Hospital Nurse Staffing and Quality of Care. Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality, 1(14), pgs 1-9. Retrieved on September 13, 2012 from: http://www. ahrq. gov/research/nursestaffing/nursestaff. pdf Welton, J. M. (2007). Mandatory Hospital Nurse to Patient Staffing Ratios: Time to Take a Different Approach.

The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 3(12). Retrieved on September 13, 2012 from: http://gm6. nursingworld. org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Volume122007/No3Sept07/MandatoryNursetoPatientRatios. aspx.

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