Patients are given care in the hospital by nurses who are experienced so that their health can be taken care of effectively. The number of nurses available should be large enough to take care of the increasing demand of patients who need their care all the time. When a number of nurses is high, high-quality health care services are provided and the working environment is not stressful. Strategies should be put in place so that new staff are recruited, old ones retained and staff satisfaction is taken care of so that high-quality services are provided efficiently.
The studies conducted among nurses in the hospital who provide care to patients examined the ratio of nurses to patients. This was very important in order to determine the average ratio of patients to nurses in examining how problems that arise in the hospital are perceived by the nurses so that understaffing can be avoided. Complement data on the effect of ratios of nurse to patient shows the effect of such ratios on mortality rates and quality of care given to patients so that the need for recruiting new nurses can be established and experienced ones retained. In situations of the nurses are very few, the patients get low-quality health care because the nurses who are available have very little time to give the patients attention at the individual level. (Upenieks, 2005)
The Problem of Nurse to Patient Ratio
According to (Kane, 2007) understaffing of nurses affects the quality of services offered to patients in the hospital. This depends on the size of the hospital because, if the hospital is big with many patients, it should have an increased number of nurses to serve the patients effectively. Younger nurses and those who work in big hospitals believe that staffing can have a negative effect on the quality of health care. For example, 68 percent of nurses who are under forty years believe that the level of staffing has a negative impact on the quality of health care in comparison with 54% of nurses who are forty to forty-nine years old.
The nurses who want to become educators should be supported through funding them in order to solve the problem of shortage. The problem of nurse to patient ratio is solved by employing nurses who are taught by the ones who are already experienced. The Association of nurses ensure that, it has minimum number of nurses who are able to get enough rest in order to provide direct care in an equipped work environment to ensure safe care is provided to patients. The problem of retaining nurses is solved through legislation of patient care that prohibits mandatory overtime work when nurses are already exhausted. Overworking of nurses is dangerous because, once they are tired; there is tendency of making medical mistakes that are harmful to patients. (Upenieks, 2005)
3 nursing strategies to resolve the problem
Retaining current nurses
(Goodin, 2003) found that, the current nurses are the ones who have worked for sometime and are experienced in their work. Hospitals should not terminate their employment without a valid reason because; by so doing the number of nurses will be fewer. Employment of nurses should not be terminated because, the nurses who will be left working feel that their employment is at risk and may not be able to give quality service or even end up looking for jobs elsewhere.
Current nurses can be encouraged and motivated to continue working through appreciating the efforts they put in their duties and assuring that their job is secure and will continue in future. The work environment should be encouraging where the relationship between nurses and hospital management allow everyone to communicate freely and get solutions in case problems arise without fear and no one is discriminated.
Recruiting new nurses
According to (Upenieks, 2005) when the number of patients is high and there are few nurses to attend to them, new nurses are recruited. The recruitment will be base on the qualifications of the nurses and experiences they have in the areas where they are required to serve. Experts should be employed to conduct interview in order to make sure that the nurses who are recruited can perform their duties well and provide high quality services to the patients. Graduate nurses as well as student nurses are very useful in situations where there are shortage of nurses and the number of patients is increasing because, once they are guided on how to apply the knowledge they have in nursing and put it into practice, they can serve a large number of patient who need their care.
(Cabell, 2006) found that, Nurses need to be satisfied in order to perform their duties effectively. The salary given to them should be enough depending on their experience because, if they fail to be satisfied with the salary given to them, they might decide to look for other means of earning a living. Nurses can be given free housing so that they can be motivate to work hard and remain in the hospital and their salary be reviewed all the time so that they get enough money to take care of their basic need and feel satisfied with the amount they get which is proportional to the health care services they offer to the patients.
Advantages of nurse to patient ratio to patient care
According to (Goodin, 2003), When the number of nurses is large enough to take care of patients, high quality health care services are provided. This ensures that the medical needs of patients are care for and this reduces mortality rate and the chances of similar disease occurring in future. The working environment of nurses will be conducive since none of the nurses will work under stress and there will be enough time for nurses to diagnose patients and give them the appropriate treatment. If the nurses are increased, their jobs are improved and the working schedule is flexible without working for long hours with no rest or even overtime hours.
Disadvantages of nurse to patient ratio to patient care
(Olsen, 2005) found that, there is high demand for nurses who are able to handle large number of patients and also need for modern improved technology. The workforce in the area of nursing is getting old very faster demanding it to be replaced which is very expensive and required considerable amount of time and money. The new technology requires professionals who are educated. Large number of patients requires nurses to work overtime which is mandatory bringing about unsafe environments for taking care of patients.
Many nurses leave direct care of patients before their retirement so that they can be employed in jobs that have less stress and are not very demanding physically. When the ratio of patient to nurse is very high, the risk of patient mortality will be high, the number of admissions will increase and there would be increased dissatisfaction of nurses’ job due to the increase workload of the nurses. Patients wait for long periods of time before they can be attended and given medicine and in the emergency room, nurses are not able to take care of all the patients needs resulting to serious problems and medical errors.
(Robinson, 2006) concluded that, nurses should be enough to take care of patients and provide high quality health care. Stressful working environment need to be avoided so that the nurses get enough time to work and rest. Motivation is very important so that the nurses are encouraged to work hard all the time with minimum supervision because their efforts are always rewarded through good salary, remunerations and flexible work schedule.
- Cabell S. (2006): The nurse retention dilemma; a literature review: ProQuest Nursing Journals database pp. 24-27.
- Goodin J. (2003): The nursing shortage in America: Pub med Advanced Nursing journal: Blackwell Synergy pp. 33-35.
- Kane R. (2007): Nurse staffing and quality of patient care: EBSCO research Database pp. 33-36.
- Olsen D. (2005): Privacy Concerns of Patients and Nurse Practitioners in Primary Care: Journal of the American Academy pp. 24-27.
- Robinson H. (2006): nurse and patient satisfaction outcomes in a complex continuing care: Journal of Advanced Nursing pp. 22-25.
- Upenieks V. (2005): Recruitment and retention strategies: ProQuest Medical Library pp. 13-15.