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Nursing Staffing Ratio and Patient Safety & Care

Description of Nursing Staffing Ratio

The nurse staffing ratio in the health facility emergency department has been a global concern. According to Strachan-Hall (2017), the patient’s safety is directly proportional to the number of nursing staff; the lesser the nurse-to-patient ratio, the higher death instances. In most global states, individual facilities can mend their own staffing rules. Conventionally, more than 14 states in the United States of America have amended some safe staffing laws.

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However, most of those states’ laws require a general plan to manage the ratio other than regulating it (Gutsan et al., 2020). The standard nurse staffing ratio is averagely one nurse for every five patients, which is not adequate. Generally, when nurses have fewer patients to attend to, they will give a more satisfactory job with minimal work pressure. Therefore, a well-balanced nurse to patient ratio can result in substantial success.

How Nursing Staffing Ratio Affects the Quality of Care and Patient’s Safety

Nurse staffing is directly proportional to the clinical outcome. Studies have revealed nurse staffing as an essential variable worth considering in promoting safety and patient recovery. According to research done by Strachan-Hall (2017), a lower level of nurse staffing is associated with accentuated risk of poor patient’s results. Besides, adequate nurse staffing increases the performance of the health facility and promotes patient’s outcomes. Staffing ratios also differ within the facility, depending on the department. For instance, the emergency room can require a maximum of a one-to-three nurse-to-patient ratio, while the intensive care unit will require a one-to-one ratio.

By extension, adequate nurse staffing enhances practical nurse communication skills and strategies. Many nurses complain regarding inadequate time to provide recommended emotional support and comfort to their patients since they have to divide their limited time to many patients (Lee, 2019). Furthermore, nurse staffing is a determinant to improved patient care quality and patient safety. Most nurses believe the nurse staffing ratio is a concern of care quality (Lee, 2019). In summary, the nurse staffing is an actual act which will help minimize patients’ death when taken into account.

Application of Professional Standards in Addressing Nurse Staffing Ratio

Healthcare facilities all over the world face enormous challenges pertaining to the staffing of nurses. Clinical staff shortage brought about by growing population, cost-cutting decisions, increased patient complexity, and other essential factors instill stress on the nurses working conditions and affect their productivity. Evidence shows that appropriate nurse staffing improves patients’ outcomes and enhances both patient and staff’s satisfaction (Strachan-Hall, 2017).

For the past decades, American Nurses Association has been working to address unsafe nurse staffing levels to improve nurses working conditions and favorable patients’ aftermath. The association is committed to delivering the best in evidence-based policy, advocacy, products, practice, and professional growth to enhance safe staffing and transition health departments. For instance, the association is working to ensure that all nurses have a role in nurse staffing decisions, and all health facilities have well-structured staffing guidelines (Strachan-Hall, 2017). Health care services can be elevated by improving nurse staffing policies and practices for both the private and public health sectors.

Roles of Nursing Leaders and Managers and Approaches to Addressing the Issue

Leaders focus on motivating, inspiring, influencing, and empowering others. Additionally, nursing managers are those bearing additional responsibility for others. Consequently, they are commissioned to fulfill the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic plans (Fernandes et al., 2018). Nursing leaders are responsible for policy-making and control quality measures. However, medical managers administrate all the organization’s activities, such as ensuring the staff perform their duties and are held accountable in case of a failure. Both health managers and leaders complement each other and have an expansive administrative role (Fernandes et al., 2018).

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Nursing leaders and managers are the overseers of all health care progress. Therefore, they are responsible and capable of improving the nursing staffing ratio either by employing more nurses and workers or enhancing healthcare triple aim framework. These frameworks or goals are described as better health, better care, and better value. Additionally, the healthcare leaders are the mouthpiece to the healthcare workers; thus, through appropriate representation, the respective governments can consider achieving a nursing staff-to-patient ratio.

Leadership Style Addressing Nurse Staffing Ratio

Medicine is a broad society and a crucial construct for patients’ safety and care. Leadership in the health industry is essential for enhancing innovations and adapting to current health industry trends. Nursing is a human-centered profession; thus, leadership skills are crucial requirements for all nurses. Nursing constitutes several leadership styles, categorized into four types: transformational, leissez-faire, autocratic, democratic, and servant leadership (Lee, 2019). Leadership styles that embrace inclusivity and accept the patients’ and nursing staffs’ mutual benefits are considered the more effective.

The leadership styles mentioned above are all instrumental; however, due to population increase, technological advancements, and evolutions in nursing, transformational leadership has proved to be the most commonly applied (Lee, 2019). Generally, transformation leaders are inclined towards relationship building and team motivation. They are always enthusiastic, captivating, and forecast successful outcomes. Enhancing the nursing staffing ratio requires the leadership styles mentioned above. Therefore, transformation leadership should be embraced in addressing the issue of nurse staffing in the healthcare industry.


Fernandes, R., Araújo, B., & Pereira, F. (2018). Nursing management and leadership approaches from the perspective of registered nurses in Portugal. Journal of Hospital Administration, 7(3), 1–8. Web.

Gutsan, E., Patton, J., & Willis, W. K. (2020). Nurse burnout: The effect of the gap between personal values and their implementation in the workplace. Journal of Nursing & Healthcare, 5(3), 1–21. Web.

Lee, H. S. (2019). Staffing and care quality of nursing homes in Korea. Innovation in Aging, 3(1), 702. Web.

Strachan-Hall, E. (2017). California has won case for nurse-patient ratios. Nursing Management, 23(9), 15. Web.

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