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Nursing Understaffing as a Capstone Project Topic

Nurses should collaborate and apply their competencies to meet the health needs of the greatest number of patients. Unfortunately, the current patient-practitioner ratio remains low in many parts of the United States. This issue explains why healthcare professionals continue to experience increased workloads. This project gives a detailed description of the current issue of nursing understaffing.

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Selected Problem

The number of patients in need of timely and high-quality has been on the rise due to the emergence of different diseases, including cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. The percentage of caregivers and nurses is still low in many healthcare settings. Solheim (2016) observed that the supply of nurse practitioners (NPs) was reducing due to poor working conditions and remunerations. Many nurses have been opting for other career opportunities in different sectors. The number of medical professionals working overtime is currently high.

Context and Setting

In terms of context, many hospitals are getting more patients than ever before. Unfortunately, such people are unable to receive timely medical services due to the problem of nursing shortage. These complexities explain why NPs are forced to work overtime and provide sustainable services (Mohsen, Safaan, & Okby, 2016). The length of stay in hospitals continues to reduce because individuals are unable to receive adequate medical attention.

Detailed Description

Nurses form an integral part of the global healthcare sector. In the United States, around 4 million professionals are available to provide medical services and care to the country’s population (Wendsche, Hacker, & Wegge, 2017). A report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the country could be in need of more than one million nurses by the year 2020 (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017). This profession is presently facing understaffing due to various reasons, including inequitable distribution of resources, increased turnover, and inappropriate remunerations.


The problem of nursing shortage has resulted in numerous implications on the integrity of the healthcare sector. Firstly, the work environment is affected negatively since many NPs and nurse aids are forced to work for more hours. They remain fatigued and suffer from depression. Each NP is forced to offer exemplary care to different patients simultaneously (MacPhee, Dahinten, & Havaei, 2017). The poor quality of life for such professionals has resulted in high turnover. Secondly, the quality of care provided by staff is not acceptable due to the absence of motivation (Glette, Aase, & Wiig, 2017). Those working overtime are usually tired and incapable of providing exemplary services. Thirdly, medication errors and inappropriate support explain why patients record poor health outcomes.


The issue of nursing understaffing is significant because it examines an area that policymakers have ignored in the past. When different stakeholders focus on this problem, chances are high that new professionals will be hired to transform nursing practice (Hooper, 2016). Consequently, managers and leaders can focus on evidence-based strategies to hire more NPs and address this problem.


Several initiatives are needed to tackle this challenge and maximize patients’ health experiences. The first one is encouraging retirees to continue providing their services for more years. The second strategy is hiring additional nurse aids and NPs to reduce the current nursing shortage (Kiekkas et al., 2019). The third solution is introducing new incentives to minimize turnover. Finally, the government can implement powerful policies to present a permanent solution to this problem.

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The above discussion has identified nursing understaffing as a major challenge facing the healthcare sector. This issue is associated with poor patient outcomes and inappropriate work environment experiences. The proposed solutions can transform the current situation and ensure that more people receive high-quality services.


Glette, M. K., Aase, K., & Wiig, S. (2017). The relationship between understaffing of nurses and patient safety in hospitals— A literature review with thematic analysis. Open Journal of Nursing, 7, 1387-1429. Web.

Hooper, V. D. (2016). The Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing: Where are we 5 years later? Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 31(5), 367-369. Web.

Kiekkas, P., Tsekoura, V., Aretha, D., Samios, A., Konstantinou, E., Igoumenidis, M., … Fligou, F. (2019). Nurse understaffing is associated with adverse events in postanaesthesia care unit patients. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 28(11-12), 2245-2252. Web.

MacPhee, M., Dahinten, V. S., & Havaei, F. (2017). The impact of heavy perceived nurse workloads on patient and nurse outcomes. Administrative Sciences, 7(1), 7-23. Web.

Mohsen, M. M., Safaan, N. A., & Okby, O. M. (2016). Nurses’ perceptions and barriers for adoption of evidence based practice in primary care: Bridging the gap. American Journal of Nursing Research, 4(2), 25-33. Web.

Salmond, S. W., & Echevarria, M. (2017). Healthcare transformation and changing roles for nursing. Orthopedic Nursing, 36(1), 12-25. Web.

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Solheim, J. (2016). Emergency nursing: The profession, the pathway, the practice. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International.

Wendsche, J., Hacker, W., & Wegge, J. (2017). Understaffing and registered nurses’ turnover: The moderating role of regular rest breaks. German Journal of Human Resource Management: Zeitschrift für Personalforschung, 31(3), 238-259. Web.

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