Staffing issues have always been a major area of concern within the health field. Adequate staffing affects the patient safety, staff morale and finances of the organization. It’s important that organizations take note of concerns related to their staffing and take the necessary steps to ensure that adequate staffing within the units.
The staffing in my organization varies depending on the unit and level of care or acuity of the patients. For starters, patients enter into the Emergency Department and are typically cared for by a nurse who is assigned a team of 3-4 patients. Nurses who work on the medical/ telemetry units are assigned a 1:6 nurse: patient ratio. Nurses who work on the Intermediate Care or Step Down unit is assigned a 1:3 nurse:patient ratio. ICU and CVICU patients are assigned at a 1:2 or 1:1 nurse to patient ratio.
There could be a number of variables that affects the staffing ratio. The shortage in healthcare professionals is one of the greatest variables affecting the staffing ratios. When there is not enough employees on duty, nurses and nurses assistants are forced to work under staff. Patients and families notice when there is a shortage of staff, and they tend to lose their faith in their provider when they’re working short. It’s important that staff understand the importance of managing up the organization and notify their leader if they are feeling overwhelmed instead of venting to the patients.
As it stands now, my organization has some of the lowest nurse to patient ratios which is currently mandated by the organization itself. Our organization takes pride in patient safety, and focuses on safe quality care as a whole. This staffing ratio affects the organizational budget as a great deal of resources is put into recruiting qualified staff as well as using alternative staffing agencies to assist with nursing and support staff coverage.