The nursing workforce has a direct influence on health care policies. An adequate nurse-to-patient ratio leads to higher patient satisfaction and improved patient outcomes, and it eliminates such factors as nurses’ burnout and job dissatisfaction. Successful interprofessional relationships improve the professional environment, while quality and safety education ensures proper job performance and management. All the mentioned aspects should be taken into account while managing a health care facility as they exert an immediate influence on the quality of health care services.
Nurse Staffing and Patient Satisfaction
Nurse staffing is a crucial issue for hospitals. Increased nurse workloads might often result in an increased number of negative patient outcomes (Aiken, et al., 2014, p.1). It is intertwined with the problem of job dissatisfaction and burnout. Lower nurse-to-patient ratios eventually lead to increased stress levels and, as a result, burnout (Treas & Wilkinson, 2014, p. 261). Higher mortality rates are the inevitable ramifications of neglecting inadequate nurse staffing. Therefore, it is in the hospital’s best interest to resolve the problem.
Patient satisfaction is a complex aspect of health care quality. It mostly depends on the nurse-to-patient ratio as well as on the quality of health care the patients receive. The nurses’ position is vital in this case since they have the most patient contact as they are explaining and administering the treatment and tending to the patient’s needs. Despite what some people think, caring for patients is not a routine activity. It involves treating patients in a unique way and understanding their needs and concerns. Thus, it cannot be mechanical (Treas & Wilkinson, 2014, p. 31). An exhausted, understaffed nurse workforce cannot give personal treatment. Therefore, it is crucial for each facility to ensure an adequate level of nurse staffing. Mandatory overtime is often employed as a method of solving the problem of low staffing levels. However, not only is it a temporary measure but it can also be a health and safety hazard. Excessive workload often results in medication and administration errors as well as in unacceptable patient care quality.
Job safety is another essential notion. Quality and safety education for nurses gives a comprehensive view of the matter concerning various aspects: providing the necessary patient care, acknowledging the idea of human diversity and different patient backgrounds, and safety measures regarding health care facilities (Treas & Wilkinson, 2014, p. 327). The individual safety of each nurse is just as important as the safety and security needs of patients. More often than not, a nurse’s safety depends on maladaptive behavior, stress, and anger management of certain patients. It is well known that when a nurse can establish a trusting rapport with a patient, she can reduce the patient’s anxiety by merely being present. Nevertheless, it is important for each member of the medical personnel to follow certain guidelines, which could minimize the risks.
Treas and Wilkinson (2014) emphasize that clinicians and nurses might often differ in their outlooks on the priorities of treatment (p. 20). Such cases are rather common and may lead to discord, which is never beneficial for patient care. A strained atmosphere among the clinical staff is a problem worth being concerned about, as it reveals the lack of efficient collaboration. The role of nurses slightly changed with the use of advanced practice nurses. It is often reported to yield better results by leading to increased positive patient outcomes and greater patient satisfaction when compared with health care provided solely by physicians (Treas & Wilkinson, 2014, p. 20).
Over the last decade, nurses associations gained quite a lot of influence in the legal field of health care. Enrolling additional staff in the case of nursing shortages is one of the causes supported by these organizations. Nurses constitute the biggest group of health care workers, hence the possibility to change the situation for the better.
“Ask a Nurse”
Joan, a family friend, will have been working as a nurse for 20 years in October. Even though nurse staffing is inadequate at her hospital, with mandatory overtime as a common practice, she would not want to leave. “As an advanced practice nurse, I bear more responsibility for the patients than the other nurses. It cannot be taken lightly.” A stressful environment and excessive workload are inevitable obstacles to establishing trusting relationships with patients. Joan acknowledges the importance of a spiritual dimension of health care, as described in the transpersonal theory of caring. Watson’s theory is based on a holistic approach, as it puts the emphasis on the care of the whole patient as opposed to the cure (Perry, 2015, p. 519). Transpersonal caring should help build a unique level of trust with a patient and allow for the unlocking of profound sources of healing. Diseases are not the central focus of this approach. The nurse-patient relationship is the key to efficient patient care as it can instill hope and faith as well as strengthen the patient’s commitment to their health.
How Can I Contribute?
In view of the current problems regarding nursing issues in health care facilities, I am inclined to ask the question, what contribution can I make to improve nurses’ working conditions? Primarily, joining a nurses’ professional organization is a must since collaborative effort is necessary to advance the cause. I would work towards ensuring that the workload is not excessive and that the methods used to solve the problem of a nurses’ shortage do not include mandatory overtime but rather additional nurses’ enrollment. I would like to work on improving the quality of patient care by applying the principles of Watson’s transpersonal caring theory. In our world of rapid change and instant communication, I find it crucial to take the time necessary to establish a good rapport with my patients as well as with all medical personnel.
Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Bruyneel, L., Van de Heede, K., Griffiths, P., Busse, R.,…Sermeus, W. (2014). Nurse staffing and education and hospital mortality in nine European countries: a retrospective observational study. The Lancet, 383(9931), 1824-1830.
Perry, A. G. (2015). Caring in nursing practice. In P. A. Potter, A. G. Perry, P. A. Stockert, & A. Hall (Eds.), Essentials for nursing practice (pp. 517-530). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
Treas, L. S. & Wilkinson, J. M. (2014). Basic nursing: concepts, skills, & reasoning. Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.