Literature Review on Application of Nursing-Skill Mix

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 4
Words: 880
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Nursing-skill mix involves the combination of employees in a specific post. This is often done amongst posts that are related in a particular way (“,” 2004, p. 34). While nursing-mix has been applied in many instances within the medical field, its significance has continued to bear positive results in the nursing field (“Department of Health, 1999, p. 11). Precisely, nursing-mix has facilitated the transferability of skills and knowledge among community nurses.

Many scholars have contributed to the topic of the importance of nursing-skill mix in terms of aiding in transferring skills and knowledge amongst the community nurses. According to Buchan and Calman, there are distinct categories of nurses within the healthcare system. These categories are composed of nurses that are trained to perform specific tasks only. Buchan and Calman, however, maintain that nursing is a dynamic profession that requires multiplicity of tasks by the nurses. This means that nurses should strive to attain skills in other areas of healthcare management. According to them, this will increase knowledge amongst the nurses leading to more dynamic system of healthcare provision in the hospitals around the world (Levenson, and Vaughan, 1999, p. 45). This is because any nurse can serve in a particular post or position of choice within the hospital environment thus helping in service delivery leading to more lives saved in the hospital (Hunter, Ventura and Kearns, 1999, p. 20-31).

In terms of analysis, Buchan and Calman’s ideas are within context since the healthcare profession is dynamic. Due to the increasing number of cases involving different physical conditions and diseases, the numbers of patients visiting hospitals have constantly increased around the world. On the other hand, as the numbers of patients are increasing in these hospitals, the populations of nurses within the same hospitals have remained constant (Nichols, 1992, p. 343-351). This has often led to overburdening of certain nursing posts due to large numbers of patients needing attention while other posts have none or very few patients to handle. As a result, many patients have lost their lives especially in the sub-Saharan Africa whereby healthcare is costly and there are several instances whereby many patients are being handled by only one nurse (Dealy, 2001, p. 1458-1468). Nursing-mix in this situation will automatically provide transferability of knowledge and skills to other nurses in other posts. This transfer would be helpful in terms of helping to save the lives of patients who would have died in the process of waiting to be attended to by one nurse (Jarvis, 2001, p. 46).

Another scholar who has contributed to this topic is Dorothy McCaughan. According to McCaughan, “the issues surrounding skill mix are often highly contentious and, not surprisingly, various interest groups either welcome or reject attempts to examine the different combinations of staff, qualified and unqualified, experienced and inexperienced, in relation to costs, outcomes and quality of nursing care,” (McCaughan, 2011, p.1). In this statement, McCaughan is acknowledging the fact that nursing-skill mix is a very important exercise that should be carried out in the healthcare field in the society. However, she maintains that this subject has often been met by a series of rejection and acceptance instances. The opposing side has constantly argued their case based on the costs of the entire process (McGee, Castledine and Brown, 1996, p. 686). In as much as they admit that nursing-skill theory is significant in terms of allowing nurses to transfer knowledge to the community of nurses around the world, they also maintain that cost implication of such forms of training for the nurses is costly. As a result, it is worth noting that this scholar also acknowledges the fact that nursing-skill mix aids in transfer of knowledge and skills amongst community nurses.

Lastly, this issue has also been handled by Frank Crossan and Dorothy Ferguson. According to these scholars, “The evidence which currently exists offers some limited support for the suggestion that redistribution of certain tasks in nursing could be possible and could contribute to strategies for meeting the demands of changes within health care delivery.” (Crossan and Ferguson, 2005, p. 23). Based on their studies, Crossman and Ferguson have managed to gather evidence that proves that nursing-skill mix is an important aspect of medical practice due to its ability to support the transfer of knowledge. Analytically, it should be noted that this practice has been a major concern within the field of healthcare management and delivery for quite a long time. The problems associated with the increasing numbers of patients in hospitals around the world have created the need for implementation of nursing-skill mix in order to increase the efficiency of service delivery. In addition, it has helped in protecting the continued loss of lives due to the disability of qualified nurses to handle specific patients (Marshall and Luffingham, 1998, p. 658-661).

It is necessary to understand that nursing-skill mix offers the ability to combine nurses that are specialized in different areas for the purpose of gaining variety of knowledge concerning the practice. As a result, nurses are able to gain knowledge concerning other posts in the field of medicine leading to diversity which is helpful in variety of ways. The community of nurses have tremendously benefited from this practice since they have been impacted by gaining extra knowledge leading to more specialization.


Buchan, J., and Calman, L., 2011. Skill-Mix and Policy Change in the Health Workforce: Nurses in Advanced Roles, OECD Health Working Papers. Web.

Crossan, F., and Ferguson, D., 2005. Exploring nursing skill mix: a review. Journal of Nursing Management, 13 (4).

Dealy, C., 2001. Emergency Nurse Practitioners: should the role be developed. British Journal of Nursing, 10 (22), pp. 1458-1468.

Department of Health., 1999. Health Service Circular 217. London: DOH.

Hunter, J., Ventura, M., and Kearns, P., 1999. Cost Analysis of a Nursing Center for the Homeless. Nursing Economics, 17 (1), pp. 20-31.

Jarvis, S., 2001. Skill-mix in Primary Care – Implications for the Future. London: Medical Practices Committee.

Levenson, R., and Vaughan, B., 1999. Developing new roles in practice. London: Kinds Fund.

Marshall, Z., and Luffingham, N., 1998. Does the specialist nurse enhance of deskill the general nurse? British Journal of Nursing, 7 (11), pp. 658-661.

McCaughan, D., (2011). Skill mix in nursing: a selective review of the literature, Web.

McGee, P., Castledine, G., and Brown, R., 1996. A survey of specialist and advanced nursing practice in England. British Journal of Nursing, 5 (11), pp. 682.

Nichols, L., 1992. Estimating Costs of Underusing Advanced Practice Nurses. Nursing Economics, 10 (5), pp. 343-351. “A review of nursing skill-mix to optimise care in an acute trust, 100 (06), pp. 34.