Nurses play an integral role in the health care system. They provide acute care for patients in intensive care units and emergency rooms as well as administering medicine and other everyday essentials throughout the hospitals.
While nurses’ role is integral, they are far too often under-supported and overworked as hospitals attempt to lower costs and increase profits.
The needs of the patients, resources, and workforce are in conflict with the healthcare setting. Competing needs in nursing arise within a healthcare organization when nurses try to meet their targets as established by the company goals.
Organizations that fail to balance the competing needs in nursing are more likely to experience negative outcomes.
Finding the balance between nursing demand and the nursing outcomes is paramount to improving the overall nursing experience and organizational outcomes.
Health organizations pursue various goals simultaneously including retaining employees, operational excellence, good quality care, and excellent services to their patients. This requires establishing a solid balance between nursing staff and the patient needs.
An appropriate fit between nursing staff and patient’s needs are some of the competing needs in nursing that may affect key outcomes in healthcare.
It is challenging to objectively establish whether nursing capacity is in optimal alignment with the patient needs in the hospitals.
Healthcare organizations are seeking measures to ensure a good balance between nursing staff size and expertise and the patient needs to ensure delivery of safe and quality care services to patients while maintaining sustainable operating costs.
Nurses continue to experience higher workloads in hospitals for different reasons including reduction in patient length of stay, increased overtime and reduced staffing, inadequate supply of nurses, and increased demand for nurses.
The demand for more nurses is influenced by the increasing aging population. The nurses’ shortage is due to increasing demand and nursing schools are struggling to keep up with the increasing demand in nursing education.
The increasing health care costs has also resulted in some hospitals reducing their nursing staff and even implementing mandatory overtime policies to meet the significantly high demands.
Health care organizations are also forced to minimize the patient length of care due to the increasing costs. Resultantly, hospital nurses care for sicker patients which makes their work intensive.
The high workload for nurses has a significant effect on patient’s safety. High workload leaves nurses with insufficient time to perform key tasks that affect patient safety directly.
It also minimizes nurse-patient communication. It also has a negative effect on the nurses’ job satisfaction and ultimately contributes to the nursing shortage and high turnover.
Job dissatisfaction among nurses can result in absenteeism, low morale, poor job performance, and turnover, possibly threatening organization effectiveness and patient care quality.
Apart from patient care, nurses are also expected to perform nonprofessional tasks such as ordering, coordinating, and performing ancillary services, transporting patients, housekeeping responsibilities, and delivering and retrieving food trays.
High job demands are a key contributing factor to nurses quitting their jobs due to the increased burnout and job dissatisfaction.
High workload also increases the nurses’ risk of committing knowledge errors, mistakes, execution errors, lapses or errors. The nurses’ attention is affected due to the significant time pressure which creates conditions for unsafe patient care and errors.
The competing needs in nursing can be managed by matching the optimally nursing capacity in the healthcare organization with the patient needs.
This can be attained using fair and sensible nurses’ distribution in units resulting in equally distributed nursing workload that can be managed sufficiently by the available nursing staff.
Workload management for nursing staff has been established as one of the most effective ways of establishing the balance between patient needs and nursing staff.
The workload management method entails balancing the required resources with available resources to prevent additional costs of overstaffing a certain unit while preventing a decline in employee engagement and patient experiences by understaffing a unit.
There is a direct association between nursing workload and nurse-reported quality of care and patient outcomes. Good workload management will also ensure that employees stay healthy since the greatest absenteeism and burnout predictor is high nursing workload.
Developing policies keen on ensuring an ideal nurse to patient ratio would also help to improve nursing staff in hospitals as well as the patient outcomes.
For instance, having a 4:1 ratio in an emergency department would mean that one nurse caters to a maximum of four patients at a time while the ratio in critical care units should be 2:1 or even just one patient for the nurse.
The significance of establishing an optimal nurse-to-patient ratio cannot be underestimated and it should be specific for each unit.
This approach allows organizations to develop flexible staffing levels and account for changes such as availability of resources, layout of unit, level of nursing staff experience, the number of admission, and the intensity of nursing needs.
Patient, workforce, and organizational needs are always in conflict. In the face of aggressive cost-cutting and the subsequent competing nursing needs, minimum staffing levels are required to ensure the safety of both patients and nurses. Adequate nurse staffing helps to enhance patient care and minimize nurses’ turnover.
Nursing workload management and optimal nurse-to-patient staffing ratio are useful to obtain a good balance between the nurses and patients’ needs and also improves the quality of care and patient outcomes. Read on professional nursing essay writers, interdisciplinary nursing practice, Nursing Leadership, Decision on Nursing Practice, and Nursing Residency Program Essay.
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