The issue is one of the most common problems in contemporary nursing. In particular, the phenomenon under discussion is mandatory overtime for nurses. This issue is the result of another common problem – the shortage of nurses. In that way, the current policy supports the nationwide practice of mandatory overtime.
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Specifically, mandatory overtime for nurses stands for the request that they work for more hours than stated in their contracts. According to the regulation, nurses are not allowed to opt-out of the need to work additional shifts and hours (“Mandatory overtime: What you need to know,” 2017). Even though some nurses may be excited about the challenges represented by mandatory overtime, overall, this practice is very dangerous because it may potentially result in the harm caused to patients. Apart from this threat, mandatory overtime also tends to produce a negative impact on nurses.
The major aspect of the dilemma of mandatory overtime is the established nurse-to-patient ratio that is formulated separately for each facility and unit (Faller, 2017). According to this ratio, it is critical that a sufficient number of nurses are present in their workplaces at any time. The shortage of nurses forces medical institutions to find solutions to the insufficient number of practitioners. As a result, the existing nursing professionals are required to work additional shifts. In turn, many nurses tend to suffer from excessive workloads. For many nursing professionals, mandatory overtime stands for a very intense working schedule that includes more than forty working hours per week (“Mandatory overtime: What you need to know,” 2017).
Stressed and tired nurses whose lack of work-life balance is broken are more likely to make professional errors related to patient treatment, medication administration, and the provision of timely care. This is why it is dangerous for institutions to increase the number of working hours and shifts for nurses for lengthy periods of time. Moreover, in the case study, it was noted that in some cases, nurses have to stay in charge of shifts filled with young and inexperienced practitioners or the ones with low levels of education. This results in much pressure on the experienced nursing practitioners who have to cover large numbers of patients over the course of one shift. In addition, in acute care units, there are patients who require more care than others which means that nurses will either need help taking care of such situations or have more time in order to spend as much time as needed providing treatments and interventions for difficult cases.
The situation is rather complex and problematic. It requires fast solutions because neither nurses nor patients can wait for the staffing tendencies to change for the better. One of the best strategies that could help facilitate immediate change is for the nurses affected by mandatory overtime to advocate for their own wellbeing as well as the safety of their patients who have the right to receive care of the highest quality. In particular, this strategy is focused on the nurses’ focus on speaking about bout the existing problem and all of its consequences for their performance and their patient’s health and safety. Nurses are to communicate the exact issues that result from overloads and offer solutions that would align with the required nurse-to-patient ratios for their units and with their personal needs for rest. In turn, the leadership of their facilities will need to be prepared to meet the nurses’ requirements and adjust their schedules caring for the staff and patients.
Faller, M. (2017). Stopping the vicious cycle of mandatory overtime. American Nurse Today. Web.
Mandatory overtime: What you need to know. (2017). Web.
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