Why does Nursing put up with short staffing?

  1. I am wanting to get a little feedback as to why Nursing (in general) allows short staffing to be an issue? I am on our research committee at work and would like to get an idea of where to take my project. I would like to find an answer to the problem and not just more complaints. Thanks in advance for any insight.
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  2. 130 Comments

  3. by   Cattitude
    i don't know what you mean by "allow it". if there's no one to work, there's no one to work. now i sure have some answers on how to retain nurses.

    but why we "allow short staffing". what would you suggest we do? strike? that has not been effective where i've seen it happen.
    it's not like our supervisors call us up and say, "hey 15 nurses want off today but there's only room for 10 to be off, what do you guys say? and we say, well sure go ahead and leave us short!!!".
    so, i'm not sure what you mean, please explain further, i am interested.
  4. by   leslie :-D
    perhaps i am misinterpreting the op's question, but i construed it to be a matter of tolerance-either nurses allow the short staffing by continuing to work w/unsafe ratios; or it's disallowed, where the nurse(s) refuse to partake in dangerous workloads, and walk away.
    it is a choice, afterall.

    leslie
  5. by   elfinM
    I am referring to the tolerance part. I do not by any means support striking, I think it has seen it's day for effectiveness. My idea was to find out if...
    Nurses feel that it is just the way it has always been and we will just let it continue,
    If management has just worn the Nursing profession down or
    Is there really a way that Nurses can get what we need for our patient's and ourselves, yet still meet the fiscal means that hospitals need to survive.

    I hope this helps.
  6. by   MsLady06
    A Lot Of Facilities Dont Offer A Good Pay Rate And No One Wants To Work There So They Become Short On Staff...then They Hate Having To Put Out The Extra Money To Call Pool Nurses Or Even More Money To Hire Agency Nurses.
  7. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from elfinM
    I am referring to the tolerance part. I do not by any means support striking, I think it has seen it's day for effectiveness. My idea was to find out if...
    Nurses feel that it is just the way it has always been and we will just let it continue,
    If management has just worn the Nursing profession down or
    Is there really a way that Nurses can get what we need for our patient's and ourselves, yet still meet the fiscal means that hospitals need to survive.

    I hope this helps.
    i don't believe for one moment, that hospitals will not survive if they don't take shortcuts elsewhere (which of course, is the nsg dept)....have you ever seen the salaries of the ceo's and other bigwigs?
    no, most hospitals are doing quite well and it's plain, old-fashioned greed and disrespect that creates the shoddy decisions they make.
    imo, if nurses did indeed, refuse to take this b.s. and walk out, the hosp would be in for a rude awakening.
    and the paradox is, once they started treating nurses w/the respect that is so lacking (w/safe staffing, pay hikes, autonomy, support and much more appreciation), they'd likely get a bigger return on their investments-meeting or exceeding their fiscal goals quite nicely, thank you.
    to me, it's good, old common sense.
    but that's me.
    what do i know?
    i'm only a nurse.

    leslie
  8. by   wjf00
    Quote from elfinM
    I am wanting to get a little feedback as to why Nursing (in general) allows short staffing to be an issue? I am on our research committee at work and would like to get an idea of where to take my project. I would like to find an answer to the problem and not just more complaints. Thanks in advance for any insight.
    I for one NEVER allow short staffing. I refuse the assignment, if in my opinion it is unsafe. This is a relatively rare occurance, but I have done it. Patient advocacy sometimes requires ruffling managements feathers a little.
  9. by   elfinM
    I agree with your statement! I am wanting to find out the root problem as to why this exist at all. I want to make a positive change for nursing, but until I can uncover the reasons that create the problem it can't be fixed.
    I have co-workers who blame it on just being women. I find that personally offending. Whether man or woman, as Nurses we face this together. I am just trying to understand why this problem exist at all. Where did it go from being about the patient and doing what is right for them, to the bottom dollar? When did the essence of Nursing get lost in healthcare?
    Just wondering.
    Thank you for giving me insight into what I am trying to understand.
  10. by   TazziRN
    Quote from wjf00
    I for one NEVER allow short staffing. I refuse the assignment, if in my opinion it is unsafe. This is a relatively rare occurance, but I have done it. Patient advocacy sometimes requires ruffling managements feathers a little.

    I understand your feelings but how does this help the short-staffing problem? This would make it even more dangerous for the few nurses who are already working that shift.
  11. by   Silverdragon102
    Although I live in the UK we have similar problems and I find management are quick to add stress to a already stressful workload and try to put the blame on the nurses. I knew only 1 manager willing to come onto the floor and work the rest just came added stress and left without helping matters. Also from reading these boards find abandonment is also an issue that is thrown about.
  12. by   burn out
    I think the real question is why does hospitals put up with nursing shortage?
    Nurses have no control over it but if we clock in and then refuse to work short we can charged with abandonment..we get screwed coming and going.the nursing shortage is crammed down our throat. However, we manage to do the job of 5 people with only 3, for the most part our patients are basically happy and the nurses are exhausted only to repeat this again in the morning.

    Hospitals on the other hand have created the monster known as the "Nursing Shortage". Who benefits esp. financially when we work short..the hospital. Who writes our job descriptions and sets our policies and staffing matrix..the hospital. Why doesn't the three nurses (and I also mean to include the techs, and cna's and lpn's) get the pay of five people the day they have to work short instead of getting the regular pay?

    Hospitals do not have an answer to the problem because they are the problem. A vision I see for nursing is to distance themselves from the hospital. Let nurses as a group funtion as doctors do. Let them first unite enough to determine their own entry into practice, then teach them to negotiate job contracts and set their own worth. Nurses need to take control of their own profession instead of sitting back belly aching about it.
  13. by   kat911
    :yeahthat:
    Quote from TazziRN
    I understand your feelings but how does this help the short-staffing problem? This would make it even more dangerous for the few nurses who are already working that shift.
    I agree with Tazzi. Don't make a bad situation worse. There are so many things that affect staffing, there is no one issue that needs to be fixed. People calling in because it's payday or it's the weekend and they would rather not work, poor managers who can't keep staff, illnesses that run through a unit like the plague, poor salaries (in some places), poor treatment by hospitals, toxic enviornment (toxic people) and staff who don't pull together and help each other out. I am sure there are many more reasons for poor staffing, these are just a few off the top of my head.
  14. by   Sheri257
    Quote from elfinM
    I am wanting to get a little feedback as to why Nursing (in general) allows short staffing to be an issue? I am on our research committee at work and would like to get an idea of where to take my project. I would like to find an answer to the problem and not just more complaints. Thanks in advance for any insight.
    Why is staffing a problem? Money ... there's more profit in short staffing.

    The solution is what California did: implement a ratio law. The law forces them to staff properly and it works pretty well.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Jan 23, '07

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