Understaffing in Nursing


Nurses play a pivotal role in the sphere of medical care nowadays. They perform a wide range of functions both inside the hospital setting and outside of it, providing patients with care and helping them overcome their diseases. However, it is often a problem that there are not enough nurses to be able to appropriately serve all the patients. Therefore, it is paramount to consider the issue of nurse understaffing in contemporary hospitals.

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The Crux of the Problem

As should be clear, the problem which will be the focus of this project is that of nurse understaffing. On the whole, the issue has received a considerable amount of attention from researchers from a variety of countries (Aiken et al., 2014). It should be stressed that most scholars agree that the low levels of nurse staffing are associated with lower client satisfaction and worse patient outcomes in a variety of medical facilities (Aiken et al., 2014; Shin, 2013; Shin, Park, & Huh, 2014; West et al., 2014).

The Setting

The setting in which the given problem will be considered is that of the Palmetto Hospital Miami, which is a large hospital that provides medical services and cares for patients suffering from a wide range of diseases and health problems. In this hospital, the problem of nursing staffing can be observed.

A Description of the Problem

The problem that exists in Palmetto Hospital Miami and which will be the focus of this project pertains to the low level of nurse staffing in different departments of the hospital. On the whole, nurses are rather often overloaded with work and are forced to serve a large number of clients, which impairs their ability to serve them properly.

The Impact of the Problem on the Work Environment,

Quality of Care, and Patient Outcomes

The impact of nurse understaffing is that due to the work overload, nurses are often incapable of satisfying the needs and desires of clients to a full extent, which results in decreased quality of care, and, as a consequence, worse patient outcomes and lower customer satisfaction rates. This also worsens the work environment, because the nurses who are forced to do too much work suffer from fatigue and may experience burnout (Koy, Yunibhand, Angsuroch, & Fisher, 2017; Cho et al., 2016).

Significance of the Problem and its Implications for Nursing

The current problem is significant because nurse understaffing has a considerable adverse impact on patient outcomes, mortality rates, and customer satisfaction (Cho et al., 2015; Shin, 2013). It also has adverse implications for nursing, meaning that nurses work less effectively and may suffer from stress, fatigue, and burnout (Cho et al., 2016).

A Proposed Solution to the Problem

To deal with this issue, it may be proposed to increase the levels of nurse staffing in the hospital in question (Kim & Lee, 2015). If looking at the “bigger picture,” it may even be proposed to increase the minimum level of the nurse-patient ratio which is legally required for the hospitals, following the example of Harrington, Schnelle, McGregor, and Simmons (2016).

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All in all, nurse understaffing is a serious problem in a contemporary medical setting, and one of the hospitals which suffer from the lack of professional nursing personnel is the Palmetto Hospital Miami. Due to the lack of nurses, the clients suffer from worse patient outcomes, which also adversely impacts client satisfaction rates. Also, nurses are forced to do too much work, which reduces their effectiveness and may lead to problems such as stress, fatigue, and burnout. Thus, it is paramount to address this problem by increasing the nurse-patient ratio in the given hospital. On the whole, it may even be proposed to increase the minimum nurse-patient ratio required in hospitals legally to address the described problems in the contemporary hospital setting.


Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Bruyneel, L., Van den Heede, K., Griffiths, P., Busse, R.,…McHugh, M. D. (2014). Nurse staffing and education and hospital mortality in nine European countries: A retrospective observational study. The Lancet, 383(9931), 1824-1830.

Cho, E., Lee, N. J., Kim, E. Y., Kim, S., Lee, K., Park, K. O., & Sung, Y. H. (2016). Nurse staffing level and overtime associated with patient safety, quality of care, and care left undone in hospitals: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 60, 263-271.

Cho, E., Sloane, D. M., Kim, E. Y., Kim, S., Choi, M., Yoo, I. Y.,…Aiken, L. H. (2015). Effects of nurse staffing, work environments, and education on patient mortality: An observational study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(2), 535-542.

Harrington, C., Schnelle, J. F., McGregor, M., & Simmons, S. F. (2016). The need for higher minimum staffing standards in US nursing homes. Health Services Insights, 9, 13-19.

Kim, E. H., & Lee, E. (2015). Nursing outcomes of inpatient on level of nursing staffing in long term care hospitals. Journal of the Korean Data and Information Science Society, 26(3), 715-727.

Koy, V., Yunibhand, J., Angsuroch, Y., & Fisher, M. L. (2017). Relationship between nursing care quality, nurse staffing, nurse job satisfaction, nurse practice environment, and burnout: Literature review. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 3(8), 1825-1831.

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Shin, J. H. (2013). Relationship between nursing staffing and quality of life in nursing homes. Contemporary Nurse, 44(2), 133-143.

Shin, J. H., Park, T., & Huh, I.-S. (2014). Nursing staffing and quality of life in western New York nursing homes. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 36(6), 788-805.

West, E., Barron, D. N., Harrison, D., Rafferty, A. M., Rowan, K., & Sanderson, C. (2014). Nurse staffing, medical staffing and mortality in intensive care: an observational study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(5), 781-794.

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"Understaffing in Nursing." StudyCorgi, 27 Dec. 2020, studycorgi.com/understaffing-in-nursing/.

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