Picot Question: Clinical Issues: Nursing Understaffing


The selected clinical problem refers to modern healthcare organizations’ inability to keep up with the high demand for healthcare services and ensure an adequate supply of the nursing workforce. As a result of understaffing among nurses, professionals responsible for patient care often face the unwanted consequences of increased workloads, including the growing propensity to burnout. Nursing understaffing may affect professionals’ workplace performance due to the negative effects of overworking.

PICOT Formulation and Problem Description


The following PICOT question can be proposed: in nursing practitioners (P), will encourage retired professionals to return to the workforce (I), compared to not doing this (C), provide additional nurse aids to minimize the current shortage of nurses (O) within a year (T)?

Evidence-Based Solution and Nursing Intervention

The evidence-based solution proposed in the PICOT question presented above refers to the retention of experienced nurses that have reached the retirement age. The strategy based on encouraging retirees to rejoin the workforce can be justified concerning credible studies. For instance, according to the review by Kaewpan and Peltzer (2019), retired nurses positively regard the idea of re-entering the workforce due to the need for extra financial resources and ways to avoid social isolation. In Australia, the proportion of retired nurses that are willing to join the workforce exceeds 70% (Kaewpan & Peltzer, 2019). Thus, there is evidence that retirees will regard flexible opportunities to continue services as something helpful.

The intervention that the current paper proposes is a set of measures to motivate retired nurses to continue their professional activities. To begin with, nurses of the retirement age cite strict job demands and reduced physical abilities resulting from age-related health changes among the key barriers to rejoining the workforce (Kaewpan & Peltzer, 2019).

Considering that, the intervention should involve studying the retired nurses’ needs and offering flexible job opportunities that will allow such specialists to work at their own pace and without extra stress factors. Next, the strategy should include the efforts to increase retired nurses’ awareness of flexible job opportunities available to them. It can be done in different ways, including mailing, phone calls, job advertisements targeted at retired NPs, and educating soon-to-retire NPs on post-retirement job options.

Patient Care, Nursing Practice, and Health Care Agency

The identified clinical problem affects patient care to a large extent since understaffing is associated with patient safety concerns. Most importantly, the situation where nurse understaffing exists and nurse-to-patient ratios are inadequate increases the risks of adverse outcomes in patients. In post-anesthesia patients, for instance, such outcomes may include hypotension episodes, low blood oxygen levels, and other preventable issues (Kiekkas et al., 2019). To address the problem and benefit patients, it is reasonable to consider strategies helping to motivate retired nurses to continue services instead of leaving hospitals.

Aside from patients, the problem of understaffing affects nursing practice and different healthcare agencies by changing the patterns of task distribution among nurses. As a result of increasing workloads, nursing professionals have to complete multiple tasks and effectively switch between dissimilar activities, which affects burnout rates and increases the risks of medication mistakes (Kiekkas et al., 2019). Due to understaffing and the population aging, today’s nurses’ workloads tend to increase when it comes to caring for elderly patients with complex healthcare needs and chronic diseases (Marć, Bartosiewicz, Burzyńska, Chmiel, & Januszewicz, 2019).

The healthcare agency in question, a hospital, does not face severe nursing shortages, but the current staffing levels still need to be improved to prevent the currently employed NPs from facing emotional exhaustion and compromising patient safety.


To sum up, the selected clinical issue has an ongoing detrimental impact on nursing practice, quality of patient care, and healthcare agencies. The proposed Capstone project will address the problem of nursing shortages using encouraging retired NPs to continue their services under flexible working arrangements. Considering that modern nurses regard post-retirement work as a helpful opportunity, the proposed intervention deserves consideration and implementation.


Kaewpan, W., & Peltzer, K. (2019). Nurses’ intention to work after retirement, work ability and perceptions after retirement: A scoping review. The Pan African Medical Journal, 33, 1-8.

Kiekkas, P., Tsekoura, V., Aretha, D., Samios, A., Konstantinou, E., Igoumenidis, M.,… Fligou, F. (2019). Nurse understaffing is associated with adverse events in postanaesthesia care unit patients. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 28(11-12), 2245-2252.

Marć, M., Bartosiewicz, A., Burzyńska, J., Chmiel, Z., & Januszewicz, P. (2019). A nursing shortage – A prospect of global and local policies. International Nursing Review, 66(1), 9-16.

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