Nursing Workload : A National Priority Essay

Nursing Workload : A National Priority Essay

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Nursing Workload: A National Priority

Nursing Workload Concerns
The nursing profession has changed significantly over the years. In our fast-paced world of health care and technologically-advanced society, nurses are experiencing higher workloads than ever before. According to a survey done by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s ([AHRQ], 2012), more than 50% of nurses work in a crisis mode trying to do too much too quickly, and safety is sacrificed to get more work done.
In reviewing the literature on nursing workload definitions I found no definition that captures the complexity of nursing workload. Morris et al. defined workload as “the amount of performance required carrying out those nursing activities in a specified time period” (as cited in Neill, 2011, p. 137). There are many other ways in which others attempted to define nursing workload, but there is no common definition in the literature. Consequently, the difficulty of defining nursing workload contributes to the difficulty of establishing a standardized measurement system. However, according to Twigg and Duffield (2009), measuring nursing workload is imperative for patient, nurses, and healthcare systems benefits.
Importance of Nursing Workload
Considering that high nursing workload has a negative impact on healthcare, it’s more important than ever to measure workload accurately. An overview of the literature highlights that there are a number of approaches to measure nursing workload. Studies show that nursing workload is not necessarily just nurse-patient ratios. Traditionally in the literature, job demands have been measured as amount of time it takes nurses to deliver care, patient acuity, and patient-to-nurse ratio.
For instance, Upenieks, ...


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...d shorten the patients’ length of stay. However, according to the literature, healthcare organizations’ efforts to deliver health care services at lower costs without affecting the quality of care failed.
Lastly, nurses are experiencing heavier workloads due to higher acuity patients driven by older patients. According to Sultz (2009), older adults with complex needs represent the majority of hospital admissions and they tend to need the most care. The special needs of older patients are multifaceted. The complex mix of decline in functional ability, multiple chronic diseases, and the prevalence of polypharmacy use, were identified as factors associated with increased time and physical demands for nurses in the care of elderly (AHRQ, 2012)
The causes of nursing workload are multi-faced, but there is no evidence of the impact of cultural factors on nursing workload.

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