Nurse Staffing and Scheduling Options


There are a number of available options when it comes to staffing and scheduling of nurses. This paper will provide an overview of two vastly different options: self-scheduling and mandatory staffing ratios. Self-scheduling allows nurses to create flexible schedules based on their needs. This type of scheduling has proven to be effective not only for nurses but also for the patients. When having flexible schedules, nurses are able to avoid additional stress and gain higher job satisfaction. Subsequently, this prevents emotional burnout that is very common, especially with young nurses. However, their implementation can be complex due to the need to have a certain ratio of staff to patients on hand at all times, which would have to line up with the schedules that nurses pick (Koning, 2014).

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Mandatory staffing ratios are designed to prevent the understaffing issue. As the name suggests, they consist of mandate on how many nurses have to be staffed at any given moment so that all of the patients receive quality care, while the nurses are not forced to overwork. Such schedules provide oversight for hospitals where staffing is irregular. However, there are issues with this option as well. Such staffing mandates often treat nurses as numbers, rather than people. This dehumanization may lead to a loss of respect and job stability for nurses (Huston, 2014).


Although the presented options are directly opposite in nature, they both share positives for the patients receiving care. The issue of burnout that nurses face is nearly equivalent to the issue of understaffing, both need to be addressed to provide consistent patient care. It is very unfortunate that neither of the options is perfect, but different hospitals may benefit from different systems.


Huston, C. (2014). Professional issues in nursing. Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Koning, C. (2014). Does self-scheduling increase nurses’ job satisfaction? An integrative literature review. Nursing Management, 21(6), 24-28.

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