Hospitals struggle with shortage of registered nurses

Here is an article that addresses a significant problem hospitals all over the US are facing.  The need for more nurses continues to increase while the number of available nurses declines.  Nursing is a hard job and requires dedication.  Patients today are sicker and need more care than ever if they are hospitalized.  Thus the increased need for nurses.

Staffing is always a problem.  As the staffing coordinator at my small psychiatric hospital recently, I understand the problem.  You staff to a grid–a specific number of nurses, techs, aides, etc. to a specific number of patients.  If you over staff, it costs the hospital quite a bit of money and you have to send people home using their time-off allowances up.  If you under staff, the nurses working the units cannot do their jobs adequately and provide good patient care–which puts the hospital at risk.

I have had to close down an entire unit and move patients to units that were already overburdened due to “call-ins” and not being able to find replacements.  I have had a nurse manager go home early to come in to pull a night shift on the unit as staff nurse.

The patient load is dynamic, changing all the time.  The staffing grid may be correct at 0500, but by 1200 it is inadequate and you are struggling to find more nurses.

This article addresses specific problems faced in Florida, but the problem is universal.  Please go to the site and read the entire article.  Leave them a comment if you can.  Leave me a comment here if possible.  I would love to hear your opinion about staffing grids and nurse to patient ratios where you work.


Hospitals struggle with shortage of registered nurses



Nancy Anne Teems hovered her employee badge near an electronic access pad. An audible chirp sounded, and one of two double doors swung open to the region’s only Neuro Intensive Care Unit.

It was a full house at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare where the sickest of the sick occupied beds. Patients recovering from strokes, spinal cord surgeries, trauma and severe bleeding were separated by thin walls and sliding curtain doors. Concerned husbands and children sat at bedsides waiting. Hoping for a miracle. Hoping their loved ones open their eyes again.

Minutes before, Teems, a nursing manager, broke out of a morning huddle with supervisors and nurses to figure out who was working. Thursday was an ideal day, she said, explaining how the staffing grid is used for assigning patients and assessing the seriousness of their condition. She had five teams of nurses, three patient assistants and a charge nurse.

For Teems and fellow nursing manager Marsha Hartline the day to day challenge is to find enough registered nurses to fill shifts at the hospital and balance the nurse to patient ratios. Even if one nurse calls out, it triggers a mad scramble. On the fourth floor, the neuro wing stays busy. So does the rest of the hospital.

“As the patients have continued to grow and evolve, we had to increase the number of our higher level beds. So we have six neuro immediate beds on the floor,” Teems said. “There’re more patients and higher demand at a critical level.”

A perfect storm

The landscape for attracting and retaining registered nurses in the Big Bend area may worsen before it improves.

For decades, cyclical nursing shortages created strain. But a perfect storm of new and old challenges have risen for local hospitals and nursing programs.

Registered nurses represent a third of all employees at TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center. At least 150 more nurses at TMH would prevent the region’s largest (Read More Here)

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