The nurse turnover and shortage problem is one of the leading issues that affect the provision of nursing services. It has consequently resulted in countless recommendations to recover both enrollment and retention by using leadership and management approaches. Different authors describe leadership and management differently. Nevertheless, their definitions are parallel in many ways. Management, in the healthcare context, is the process by which managers ensure that the objectives of a health facility are achieved by channeling available resources and the energies of the workforce to the appropriate activities. Leadership on the other hand, is used to describe a process of influence in which the leader inspires others on the way to goal achievement. The aim of this essay is to compare, and contrast the approaches leaders and managers would use to deal with the high turnover rates and the shortage experienced in the nursing profession.
The nursing shortage and high turnover rates are global problems affecting all countries alike. However, it is more prevalent in some countries than it is in others. Analysts have previously concerned themselves with understanding the reasons behind this problem and have ended up with numerous reasons. They argue that the high turnover rates and the resultant shortage have many evident explanations and reasons. Some of the major reasons include high levels illiteracy and poverty in some countries, especially in the developing world. Consequently, only negligible numbers of new nurses join the nursing profession, yet there is a huge deficit. In the end, only negligible changes occur in the quality of service delivery and the number of nurses per patient. Another reason behind the shortage of nurses is that the current high turnover rates ensure that new nurses who join the profession are almost equal in number to those who leave or retire. Eventually, no real change occurs because the rate of entry is counterbalanced by the rate of exit.
Most nurses leave their workplaces due to unsafe working conditions, reduced nurse to patient ratios and inadequate remuneration packages (Keenan, 2003). These factors combine to present nurses with extreme challenges in their day-to-day job engagements. Unfortunately, the healthcare system seems not to take cognizance of the challenges faced by nurses. Instead, it continuously piles pressure on them to deliver good results. Additional factors influencing nurse turnover are the nature of work and family situations.
The working relationship between nurses and the leadership of the organizations they work for also has a role to play in this matter. Ribelin (2003, p. 39) notes that “Nurses’ level of satisfaction with their managers’ leadership style is critical to their work environment…staff members’ relationship with their immediate manager determines their productivity levels and their length of stay in the organization.” This assertion adds to the argument that poor management and leadership directly affect turnover. The rate nurse turnover and resulting shortages raise concern for most organizations due to the extra expenditure required for additional staffing and training (Lam, 2001). It is therefore critical that measures be instituted to address the problem and help reduce the associated negative consequences.
The process of managing an organization, whether it is a government institution or a private facility, anchors on four well-known pillars known as management functions. As such, nurse managers can only be as successful as they are ready to learn and utilize those pillars. How well nurse managers resolve the turnover and shortage problems depends on how well they bring the management functions together and use them to achieve organizational goals. Managers have to find productive ways and means of retaining their current staff by ensuring that nurses lack reasons to relocate to other places, quit, or opt for premature retirement. Managers achieve this feat by improving working conditions, providing supple programs and shifts, introducing flexible breaks during the holidays, and reducing working hours were required. Nurses are among the most overworked professionals in the world. Moreover, nursing responsibilities are excessively demanding, leading to high levels of job dissatisfaction among nurses. The nature of their work reduces their morale and cripples the nurses’ ability to offer quality healthcare services to patients. Managers focus on such issues and provide better salaries and attractive benefits that favor nurses in an attempt to make them comfortable and satisfied.
While the primary concern of nurse managers is to ensure that a healthcare organization’s needs are met, nurse leaders are responsible for the creation of a positive atmosphere and watching over the welfare of nurses. They do so by building relationships and motivating the staff. They hope to retain the workforce and reduce turnover using this mechanism. Nurse leaders understand that nurses need to feel safe and important to their employer. Therefore, they encourage communication and listen to the feedback from the nurses and allow their participation in decision making. Nurse leaders strive to ensure that the human resource policies of the healthcare system and organizations effectively protect their personal and group wellbeing. They believe that the primary concern of these policies should be providing adequate remuneration packages as well as job security.
Nurse leaders also understand that the working environment is critical to nurses, as they need to feel at home and comfortable in their workplace. Personal or team challenges such as harassment of female nurses often exist in hospitals. Nurse leaders recognize such challenges and work towards reducing them. Further, nurses may be affected by the challenges facing them at home. Most of these challenges can be prevented or controlled by simply assuring nurses that their families’ welfare is being part of their employer’s concern. Such simple gestures can encourage them to work industriously. Nurse leaders understand these issues and are often prepared to go to any extent to ensure that they become a reality, even if it means going against the requirements of the management. Therefore, while managers strive to ensure that the nurses’ needs are met within the confines of the organizational framework, nurse leaders often tend to look outside the organizational framework to solve the problems that affect nurses.
The approach that best suits my leadership style is the transformational leadership. The approach has grown widely in acceptance and application. It employs strategies that build associations among nurses in their service delivery. Transformational leadership will allow me to increase teamwork and develop individual skills. It will also allow me to expose their potentials by delegating roles to each individual and assessing how they work. Most importantly, I will also lead by example and aim at inspiring by portraying focus and confidence in my endeavors as their leader. I will also seek loyalty by letting them realize how valuable they are by praising them.
In conclusion, leadership and Management vary widely despite their adjacent characteristics. Nonetheless, they complement each other as they seek to address the issues that affect nurses because nurse leaders can venture where nurse managers cannot. As such, healthcare organizations need to employ, train, and develop, industrious leaders as well as reliable managers in order to achieve seamless operation in health facilities.
Keenan, P. (2003). The nursing workforce shortage: Causes, consequences, proposed solutions. Web.
Lam, T., Zhang, H., & Baum, T. (2001). An investigation of employees’ job satisfaction: The case of hotels in Hong Kong. Tourism Management, 22,157-165.
Ribelin, P. (2003). Recruitment & retention report: Retention reflects leadership style. Nursing Management, 34(8). Web.