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The Phenomenon of Understaffing in Nursing


The phenomenon of understaffing has become quite common in the modern nursing setting, much to the detriment of the overall quality of services. The indicated problem owes its existence to the gaps in nurse education, the change in the nursing landscape, rise in quality standards, and increase in the number of roles and responsibilities for nurses (Wendsche, Hacker, & Wegge, 2017). Therefore, addressing the specified concern should be seen as critical for modern nursing care. By changing the existing policies of nurse education and introducing nurses to the idea of lifelong learning and cross-disciplinary communication, one will be able to manage the issue of understaffing.

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The issue of understaffing has become very pervasive and has entered every domain of nursing over the past few years. Hospitals and nursing care facilities suffer from understaffing to the greatest degree, although other organizations also experience a lack of competent staff (Driscoll et al., (2018). At present, the project is set in the environment of acute care, where the shortage of nursing staff is most noticeable and has the most detrimental effects on the quality of services.


When suggesting the opportunities for improving the existing situation, one should bear in mind that the issue is multifaceted and affected by a vast number of factors. For instance, the technological breakthrough and the surge of innovations have contributed to a rise in demands for quality, for which nurses may be unprepared (Montgomery, Spânu, Băban, & Panagopoulou, 2015). In addition, the increase in diversity within communities may cause difficulties in communication. Conflicts during interdisciplinary collaboration also affect the quality of care, especially in the acute care unit (ACU), where decisions must be made fast (Isobel & Edwards, 2017).

Thus, there is the urge to change the current policy toward educating nurses and managing their cooperation in the workplace (White, 2017). Particularly, a stronger emphasis will be placed on the enhancement of interdisciplinary work and the development of new skills, including cultural competence in meeting patients’ needs (Lachance, 2014). As a result, a positive shift and an increase in nurse staffing rates.


The problem under analysis has a direct impact on not only the quality of nursing services and patients’ chances for recovery but also the setting in which nurses work. Due to the rise in stress levels and the pressure that nurses experience as a result of increased demands for quality, the number of nurses per healthcare facility shrinks, which leads to tighter schedules and an increase in workload. Consequently, more nurses experience workplace burnouts nowadays than it has ever been witnessed (Adriaenssens, De Gucht, & Maes, 2015). The understaffing problem affects all parties involved, including nurses, healthcare organizations, and patients. Therefore, an immediate change has to be introduced.


The importance of improving the existing situation is very high. Because of the vastly negative effects that understaffing has on patients, nurses, and healthcare organizations, the promotion of improvements will help to avoid numerous undesirable outcomes (Lachance, 2014). For example, the level of workplace burnouts will be reduced among nurses, where patients will receive the care of the appropriate quality, and healthcare organizations will deliver a better performance.


The provision of better educational opportunities and change in the current approach toward collaboration between nurses should be deemed as the pillars on which the future program for understaffing management should lie. The proposed alterations in nursing will cause a shift in priorities and the reconsideration of roles and responsibilities within the target setting (Bosshardt, Coyne, Marsden, Su, & Melvin, 2018). As a result, the workplace environment will be improved, which will encourage nurses to apply for jobs in the identified setting, whereas service quality will increase as a result of the education change.

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Adriaenssens, J., De Gucht, V., & Maes, S. (2015). Determinants and prevalence of burnout in emergency nurses: A systematic review of 25 years of research. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(2), 649-661. Web.

Bosshardt, M. H., Coyne, P. J., Marsden, J., Su, Z., & Melvin, C. L. (2018). Palliative care consultation policy change and its effect on nurses’ moral distress in an academic medical center. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 20(4), 325-329. Web.

Driscoll, A., Grant, M. J., Carroll, D., Dalton, S., Deaton, C., Jones, I.,… & Astin, F. (2018). The effect of nurse-to-patient ratios on nurse-sensitive patient outcomes in acute specialist units: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 17(1), 6-22. Web.

Isobel, S., & Edwards, C. (2017). Using trauma informed care as a nursing model of care in an acute inpatient mental health unit: A practice development process. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 26(1), 88-94. Web.

Lachance, C. (2014). Nursing journal clubs: A literature review on the effective teaching strategy for continuing education and evidence-based practice. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 45(12), 559-565. Web.

Montgomery, A., Spânu, F., Băban, A., & Panagopoulou, E. (2015). Job demands, burnout, and engagement among nurses: A multi-level analysis of ORCAB data investigating the moderating effect of teamwork. Burnout Research, 2(2-3), 71-79. Web.

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, 31(3), 238-259. Web.

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White, E. (2017). A comparison of nursing education and workforce planning initiatives in the United States and England. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 18(4), 173-185. Web.

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