Nurse staffing is a clinical issue that pose challenges to the nursing practice and is considered a significant problem that has not been prioritized in the health care system. The nursing staff is crucial in determining the quality of healthcare and nature of outcome.
Nurse staffing is a clinical issue that pose challenges to the nursing practice and is considered a significant problem that has not been prioritized in the health care system. The nursing staff is crucial in determining the quality of healthcare and nature of outcome. The nursing practice is continually faced with a shortage of registered nurses (RNs) nurses aides (NAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). In addition maintaining of the existing nursing staff in the healthcare system is also a challenge. This problem is profound and it is a burden in many healthcare systems. Nurses face difficulty with this problem and are left wondering about the moral integrity of the health care system where they work and their own as well (Roussel L. (2011). This problem limits the confidence and capacity of nurses to work efficiently as moral agents. As a result of this the healthcare systems suffer more so in the instance of a heath crisis (Veenema 2007).
Research has proved how critical this problem is in healthcare. High nurse staffing lowers the occurrence of adverse outcomes in patients and the vice versa is true. For example high staffing had been associated withlow rates of 5 major outcomes in patients. These are urinary tract infections pneumonia gastrointestinal bleeding shock and prolonged hospital stay. Relative surgery patients high staffing increases rescue chances. However nurse staffing is evaluated based on two dimensions; nursing hours/patient/day and ratio of nurse to patient.
To begin with this staffing problem has been attributed to various factors. First there is low enrollment of students in nursing particulary RNs. RNs education involves diploma associate degree and baccalaureate degree programs. Majority opt for LPNs and NAs due to less requirements levels. Secondly the aging factor of nurses in the healthcare system. This has been an issue of considerable concern in health care system Studies have proved that a majority of the nursing staff is comprised of older nurses. The above issue of low enrollment has contributed to retention of old expert nurses. Furthermore high turnovers of nurses also play a part in worsening this problem. High turnover rates are more linked to young nurses as opposed to the older ones. The reason for high turnover is related to the poor working environment; high workload combined with non proportional pay.
Furthermore there are potential solutions to this problem. To address the problem of low enrollment recruitment strategy is proposed for implementation. More students should be recruited in the nursing career. Alongside recruiting more students in nursing proper ways to incorporate the new nurses into nursing practice should be embraced. For example adequate mentoring and orientation of the new nurses. This helps them to accommodate the working environment. Next retention of nurses should be encouraged. This mostly applies to the older nurses. Older nurses are preferred to the younger ones due to the turnover issue. Additionally its cheaper to update the skills of existing workers rather than employing new nurses equipped with latest technologies. This creates a barrier in the recruiting of new nurses. The few recruited will be subjected to harsh working environment coupled with low wages and more workload hence triggering more turnovers.
On the contrary output of older nurses is low compared to the young nurses. Studies have shown that older nurses over 45 years work 36 hours weekly from the 38 hours whereas those over 55 works for 32 hours. Therefore the healthcare system needs to work environment by introducing better pay to the newly recruited nurses and compensations for the existing ones. This would help to eliminate migration of nurses in search of better work environment. On top of this ethical training or education should be emphasized (Yeo 2010). Healthcare systems need to equip nurses with proper knowledge to understand the care environment particularly the new recruits. This would help enhance their skills and confidence and thus ensure their survival in nursing practice (Yeo 2010).