Critical Care Unit’s Strategic Analysis

The SWOT Analysis Grid

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Effectively trained personnel.
  • Availability of material resources and innovative equipment.
  • High-quality care.
  • Low average mortality rates.
  • Compliance with the critical care unit’s norms, codes, and policies.
  • Application of evidence-based practices.
  • Shortages in relation to nursing staff.
  • Ineffective schedules and high workloads.
  • High nurse-to-patient ratios.
  • Lack of educational and in-service training programs.
  • Lack of interdisciplinary communication.
  • Low levels of job satisfaction and high levels of job stress.
  • High staff turnover rates.
Opportunities Threats
  • Cooperation with educational institutions to attract healthcare professionals.
  • Physicians’ and nurses’ training and development with the help of external parties.
  • Improvement of connections with the community and authorities.
  • Inabilities to attract and retain qualified staff because of lower salaries and higher work pressure than in other hospitals.
  • Lack of external funding to compete in the sector.
  • Lack of effective outreach initiatives in the community.

SWOT Analysis for the Unit

The critical care unit in the selected hospital serves hundreds of patients annually, remaining to be one of the units where the nurse-to-patient ratio is the highest one. This situation allows for speaking about both strengths and weaknesses in organizing the work in this critical care unit. In spite of the fact that the discussed critical care unit provides high-quality services to address community members’ needs during several years, there are still areas for improvement. It is important to discuss strengths and weaknesses related to the unit’s work and uncover available opportunities, as well as determine possible threats (Holman, 2011; “SWOT analysis,” n.d.). The purpose of this paper is to present the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis with the focus on the selected critical care unit and identify approaches to minimizing weaknesses, neutralizing threats, and realizing opportunities.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Unit

Despite identifying several strengths that can characterize the work of the unit, it is reasonable to focus on explaining only the key ones, such as the availability of effectively trained personnel, the availability of enough material resources and innovative equipment, and the provision of high-quality care that contributes to reducing mortality rates. Thus, the staff that works in the critical care unit is highly-trained and qualified, and this aspect contributes to increasing the quality of provided services. Much attention is paid to recruiting only professionals with all required certificates and accreditations to work in a specific area of intensive care. The second strength is the availability of all required advanced devices and innovative equipment to provide immediate assistance to critically ill patients. As a result, these two strengths guarantee the third important strength that is the provision of high-quality care (Karanikola et al., 2014). All patients in the unit receive professional help and support because of staff’s access to new technologies in the area of critical care; therefore, mortality rates in the unit and hospital are lower than in other hospitals in the community.

In spite of identifying a range of weaknesses in the unit, including ineffective schedules, the lack of cooperation, and high turnover rates, two major weaknesses include nurse shortages and the lack of educational and in-service training for the staff. The problem is that shortages related to nursing staff are also causes of high workloads, stress levels, and nurse-to-patient ratios that can potentially lead to decreases in the quality of care. To minimize this weakness, it is important to cooperate with colleges and universities to recruit registered nurses while providing them with attractive working conditions. Furthermore, novice nurses also require additional support and education, as well as guidance of nurse leaders (Karanikola et al., 2014). Another important factor influencing the attraction of more qualified staff is associated with increasing wages per hour.

The second key weakness is the lack of specific in-service training and educational programs that can help experienced and novice nurses adapt to stressful environments of the critical care unit. The problem is that those experienced nurses who lack training in working with advanced technologies and novice nurses experience high levels of stress, pressure, and fatigue that cause high turnover rates. As a result, to cope with this weakness, it is necessary to provide nurses and other healthcare professionals in the unit with additional education and training regarding time management, decision-making, stress management strategies, the work with advanced technologies, and interdisciplinary collaboration (Saft et al., 2014). These approaches are important to overcome the key weaknesses and improve the situation in the critical care unit.

Impacts of Opportunities and Threats

In addition to determining strengths and weaknesses, the SWOT analysis also allows for identifying opportunities and threats related to the selected unit. The first opportunity that will influence the unit is the improved cooperation of the hospital with educational institutions in the community and region to attract healthcare professionals. While developing programs for cooperation of educational institutions and healthcare organizations, it is possible to guarantee the recruitment of qualified personnel trained according to the hospital’s needs and expectations (Karanikola et al., 2014). The second opportunity is associated with improving physicians’ and nurses’ training and development with the help of external parties’ resources. If external consultants and specialists are invited to the hospital to train the staff of the critical care unit, it is possible to expect further improvements in the quality of provided care. The third opportunity is associated with improving specific connections of the hospital with the community and authorities. These connections are required to receive additional funding, investments, and support.

The identified threats are also influential, and it is important to discuss their potential effects on the unit. The first threat is the inability to attract and retain the qualified personnel because of comparably low salaries and high work pressure. Working conditions and salaries in the critical care unit of the selected hospital can be viewed as less attractive than in other hospitals, and this aspect can provoke further high turnover rates. Moreover, the absence of connections within the community can lead to the lack of external funding to successfully compete in the healthcare sector (Saft et al., 2014). As a result, it is possible to expect that the hospital will have fewer opportunities for purchasing innovative technologies. Finally, the lack of effective outreach initiatives associated with the hospital’s activities in the community can influence its expansion in the healthcare sector.

Conclusion

The provided SWOT analysis demonstrates that the critical care unit has many strengths associated with provided services, but it is important to address the problem of staff shortages and the lack of their in-service training to increase the quality of care. The administration of the unit can capitalize on the mentioned opportunities while improving cooperation and connections with educational, non-profit, and governmental organizations in the community to receive additional funding and educational resources for the staff. Furthermore, the hospital can neutralize the identified threats if the discussed cooperation is realized because of the necessity to receive material support from other organizations in the community to cope with financial and recruitment issues.

References

Holman, V. (2011). What is a SWOT analysis and how to perform a SWOT analysis [Video file]. Web.

Karanikola, M. N., Albarran, J. W., Drigo, E., Giannakopoulou, M., Kalafati, M., Mpouzika, M.,… Papathanassoglou, E. D. (2014). Moral distress, autonomy and nurse-physician collaboration among intensive care unit nurses in Italy. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(4), 472-484.

Saft, H. L., Richman, P. S., Berman, A. R., Mularski, R. A., Kvale, P. A., Ray, D. E.,… Asch, S. M. (2014). Impact of critical care medicine training programs’ palliative care education and bedside tools on ICU use at the end of life. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 6(1), 44-49.

SWOT analysis: Discover new opportunities, manage and eliminate threats. (n.d.). Web.