Advocacy and Nurse-Patient Staffing Ratios

My Personal/Professional Strategies to Increase My Power

As a registered nurse (RN), I am aware of the inadequate nurse staffing in healthcare facilities, resulting in a detriment for both nurses and patients. High workload and insufficient nurse-patient ratios put at severe risk the health of nurses and increase the likelihood of in-patients death (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, 2016). I believe that strong action is required to draw the attention of decision-makers to the issue of nurse staffing. Evidence shows that inadequate staffing also affects the most delicate departments, such as neonatal intensive care units (Lake, Rogowski, & Weiner, 2016). In this note, I will outline the guidelines for a personal agenda aimed at persuading legislators to consider nurse staffing as a critical issue.

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First, I would deepen my knowledge of nurse staffing, high workloads, and nurse-patient ratios to contextualize figures and statistics properly. Especially, I would explore the Magnet Recognition Program in detail, as it empowers organizational structures, helping the management to address the nurse staffing issue effectively (Kinnaird, 2016). The American Nurses Association offers several learning resources to understand Magnet thoroughly.

Then, I would involve my fellow nurses in spreading awareness around the topic, informing patients and the public, and lobbying hospitals for changes in the staffing decisions. Public meetings and online petitions spread across social media like Facebook and YouTube would be a good starting point. Finally, I would address the state legislator to adopt policies aimed at improving nurse staffing and nurse-patient ratios, showing how such strategies would result in benefits for nurses and patients, and in better resource management (AFL-CIO, 2016). A short and incisive memorandum, if correctly written, might pave the way for further analysis and development of adequate policies.

State Legislator Information Sheet

The role played by nurses within the health care system is prominent and irreplaceable. However, most healthcare facilities are experiencing consistent under-staffing, putting at risk patient’s health, driving nurses from the profession, and resulting in non-optimal resource management. The following memorandum outlines data and solutions that would benefit nurses, patients, and the public.

  • Inadequate staffing results in poor patient outcomes, including pressure ulcers, skin traumas, and weight loss (Hughes [as cited in AFL-CIO, 2016]).
  • Frequent burnouts and excessive workloads force nurses to consider part-time or careers outside nursing, with an annual turnover cost per RN estimated in $65,000 (“Survey of leading healthcare executives identifies top factors impacting nurse turnover.” [as cited in AFL-CIO, 2016])
  • In 2004, California enacted minimum staffing requirements, leading to a substantial increase in RN staffing and decreased mortality (Sochalski et al. [as cited in Aiken et al., 2010]).
  • After California, other states have addressed the nurse staffing issue, for a total of 14 states by December 2015 (American Nursing Association [as cited in AFL-CIO, 2016]).
  • Research shows that implementing the minimum nurse-patient ratio improves patient care and reduces nurse diaspora (AFL-CIO, 2016).
  • Adequate nurse staffing would result in quicker recovery of patients, with billion dollars saved in patient care (Minnesota Nursing Association [as cited in AFL-CIO, 2016]).

Improving the nurse-patient ratio would benefit society under every perspective. Quality of patient care, recovery time, and satisfaction of the public would increase remarkably, reducing management costs and improving productivity. Finally, the reputation of healthcare facilities would raise; possibly, the adopted policies would inspire other communities and would be regarded as a bright sample of an accurate and inspired model of resource management.

References

AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees. (2016). Fact sheet: Safe-staffing ratios: Benefiting nurses & patients. Web.

Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Cimiotti, J. P., Clarke, S. P., Flynn, L., Seago, J. A.,… Smith, H. (2010). Implications of the California nurse staffing mandate for other states. Health Services Research, 45(4), 904-921. Web.

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Kinnaird, L. S. (2016). Staffing: A matter of life or death. The Florida Nurse, 64(2), 1-5

Lake, E., Rogowski, J., & Weiner, J. (2016). Improving the lives of fragile newborns: What does nursing have to offer? The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, 20(1), 1-4. Web.

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