Medical institutions should implement powerful strategies and procedures that can ensure every targeted patient receives exemplary care. In order to support the sustainability of such procedures, hospitals should have competent nurses, physicians, and caregivers. Adequate staffing is therefore critical in such health institutions. Unfortunately, many healthcare organizations are grappling with the problem of nursing shortage. This is a major predicament that continues to affect many institutions across the world. The decreasing number of nurses and caregivers affects the quality and nature of health services available to many patients.
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More often than not, nurses are forced to take care of more patients in their respective healthcare settings. Consequently, the caregivers are overwhelmed are eventually find it hard to meet the changing health needs of such clients. A study by Aboshaiqah (2016) indicated that around 2 percent of patients died annually due to nursing shortage. MacLean et al. (2014) believe strongly that over 10 percent of patients admitted in hospitals receive inappropriate services due to the nature and complexity of this problem.
Studies have also indicated that nursing shortage is associated with the reduced number of medical practitioners. This research study is aimed at searching the evidence for nursing shortage in healthcare institutions. The analysis goes further to identify appropriate sources that can offer meaningful ideas that can be used to tackle the problem. The discussion will therefore be guided by this PICOT question: Can workplace planning (I) be more sustainable than other strategies (C) towards dealing with nursing shortage (O) in hospitals that record poor patient (P) outcomes within their time of stay (T)?
Methodology for Finding Research Sources
The identified scholarly articles required for this study were obtained from different websites that provide peer-reviewed journal articles such as ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, BMJ, CINAHL, and ProQuest. These websites were selected in order to get quality articles that could be used to complete the study. The right key words were used to search for the required articles. Some of the key words included nursing shortage, patient outcomes, evidence-based practice, quality patient care, retention, and nurse-patient ratio (Stone & Feeg, 2013). In order to ensure quality and timely information was gathered during the study, the methodology focused on articles published within the past 1-5 years. This methodology ensured that the right information and data were used to come up with the intended information.
Abhicharttibutra, Kunaviktikul, Turale, Wichaikhum, and Srisuphan (2016) indicate that staffing is a critical issue in every healthcare setting. This is the case because the number of caregivers in a given healthcare institution will dictate the quality of services available to many patients. Inadequate staffing is a major concern since it threatens the safety and health of many clients (MacLean et al., 2014). When hospitals are affected by the problem, every healthcare delivery system is affected significantly.
Consequently, the safety and health outcomes of the targeted clients are impacted negatively. Aboshaiqah (2016) indicates that the absence or shortage of nurses is associated with increased injuries, medication errors, and rehospitalization. Affected patients encounter various challenges such as infections, prolonged healing periods, and poor health outcomes.
A study by Aboshaiqah (2016) indicated that the nurses working in departments characterized by practitioner shortage will be fatigued, overworked, and demoralized (Abhicharttibutra et al., 2016). They find it hard to deliver timely and quality care to their respective patients. Most of the nurses will be required to work for long hours or shifts. The current evidence indicates clearly that the problem of nursing shortage continues to affect the quality of care provided in different healthcare settings.
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Past studies have outlined a number of workplace environment changes that can be embraced by medical and healthcare institutions to deal with the problem of nursing shortage. Stone and Feeg (2013) indicate that proper workplace arrangements can deliver positive results and eventually ensure quality health services are available to more patients. Evidence-based practices or strategies can ensure the right number of nurses is available in different workplace settings to deliver adequate, quality, and timely healthcare services. The most important consideration is ensuring that more nurses and caregivers are retained at the workplace.
Aboshaiqah (2016) argues that the introduction of flexibility in each work environment will ensure more nurses are willing to provide direct care to their respective patients (Abhicharttibutra et al., 2016). The concept of flexibility can guide managers of healthcare institutions to come up with proper work schedules and structures. The flexibility will ensure the workers are willing to focus on the needs of the patients while at the same time supporting one another. Services and care will be provided to the patients through the use of multidisciplinary teams. Duties will also be scheduled based on the competencies of the workers and the emerging needs of the targeted patients.
Experienced nurses working in different settings or departments should be rewarded and encouraged to empower their counterparts (Heinen et al., 2013). They should be encouraged to serve as preceptors for every new caregiver in the healthcare institution. Rewards should be used to encourage the nurses to work hard and attract more volunteers. This strategy will ensure more practitioners are willing to work in such healthcare organizations and deliver quality care to their patients.
Healthcare institutions should implement appropriate benefit programs and salaries for their nurses. This kind of job structuring will ensure more practitioners are willing to be part of the healthcare delivery process (Stone & Feeg, 2013). The nurses should get adequate remunerations and packages in order to feel empowered. The practice has been associated with increased job satisfaction and improved service delivery. The approach will make sure every patient receives adequate care.
Spetz (2014) argues that hospitals can come up with partnership environments that can ensure the most appropriate nursing practices are promoted. For instance, appropriate managerial practices and structures will ensure more workers are equipped with the right resources. The use of modern technologies will improve the quality of healthcare services. The nature of services needed by patients will be identified and addressed by the practitioners. It is appropriate for healthcare institutions to implement powerful strategies that can promote the hiring and training of more nurses (Heinen et al., 2013). The move will minimize the challenges associated with nursing shortage. The nurses should be provided with adequate autonomy and resources. This practice is capable of promoting performance and minimizing most of the challenges affecting many patients. Work can be redesigned in such a way that aging nurses are encouraged to provide timely care to different patients.
Analyzing and Synthesizing the Evidence
Managers in healthcare institutions have a duty to advocate for quality patient care (Abhicharttibutra et al., 2016). Individuals and professionals involved throughout the healthcare delivery process should consider powerful practices that will tackle the problem of nursing shortage. This should be the case because the shortage is directly proportional to the nature of care available to more patients. The use of workplace changes and planning will offer meaningful solutions within the shortest time possible. The important thing is bringing more people together in order to create a long-lasting solution.
Nursing shortage is associated with reduced morale, burnout, poor care delivery, and exhaustion (Spetz, 2014). With proper planning, more nurses will be empowered through the use of friendly schedules. Aging professionals will be reintegrated within the healthcare delivery framework. The strategy will maximize the nature of healthcare services available to more patients. Rewards and better remunerations will attract some professionals to the practice. Experienced professionals should be rewarded and empowered in order to support their counterparts. The workplace environment can be redesigned in such a way that it supports the manner in which healthcare services are delivered to more patients.
Inferences and Conclusions
The problem of nursing shortage is a reality in many regions and countries. With the global population growing very fast, the number of professionals available to offer quality care is quite small. Healthcare institutions should be on the frontline to use a number of processes that can address this problem. Health managers should introduce proper workplace planning in order to ensure every patient receives quality care (Heinen et al., 2013).
Appropriate benefits and salaries will be relevant towards empowering the targeted nurses. Aging workforces should be encouraged to remain active in different healthcare settings (MacLean et al., 2014). In conclusion, medical institutions can implement adequate environments that can advance every aspect of nursing practice and eventually improve the quality of patient care.
Abhicharttibutra, K., Kunaviktikul, W., Turale, S., Wichaikhum, O., & Srisuphan, W. (2016). Analysis of a government policy to address nursing shortage and nursing education quality. International Nursing Review, 1(1), 1-11.
Aboshaiqah, A. (2016). Strategies to address the nursing shortage in Saudi Arabia. International Nursing Review, 63(3), 499-506. doi:10.1111/inr.12271
Heinen, M., Achterberg, T., Schwendimann, R., Zander, B., Matthews, A., Kozka, M.,…Schoonhoven, L. (2013). Nurses’ intention to leave their profession: A cross sectional observational study in 10 European countries. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50(1), 174-184.
MacLean, L., Hassmiller, S., Shaffer, F., Rohrbaugh, K., Collier, T., & Fairman, J. (2014). Scale, causes, and implications of the primary care nursing shortage. Annu. Rev. Public Health, 35(1), 443-457.
Spetz, J. (2014). How will health reform affect demand for RNs? Nursing Economics, 32(1), 42-44.
Stone, A., & Feeg, V. (2013). In debt and misled: New graduate voices on the ‘nursing shortage’. Dean’s Notes, 35(1), 1-4.
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