Understaffing Issue in Contemporary Nursing

Table of Contents

Based on the topic, which was started in the previous paper, it is possible to restate the principal importance of understaffing issues in contemporary nursing. It is a distinct clinical problem, which adversely influences both clinical staff and patients along with the healthcare system as a whole. This paper aims to discuss the problem of understaffing in the context of the PICOT framework to observe the population groups, which are affected by the issue, to propose an intervention, to compare possible outcomes of different strategies, and to suggest a time frame which would be suitable for the solution of the problem under discussion.

Identification of Population

First of all, the population groups which are affected by the given issue to the most significant extent should be identified. Based on the scholarly literature research, two groups were identified as the most susceptible to the adverse effect of the mentioned problem: newborn babies and seniors in nursing homes (Lake, 2016; Tappen, 2016). It is evident from the research, conducted by Lake (2016), that understaffing in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) leads to increased rates of infection and lethality among newborns. Concerning the second identified group, it should be mentioned that nursing homes are often characterized by their residents as understaffed, which decreases the level of comfort (Tappen, 2016).

Proposed Intervention

One of the better interventions that could be implemented to solve the given problem (or at least to decrease the adverse impact) is described in the study by Tuominen, Lundgren-Laine, Kauppila, Hupli, & Salanterä (2016). The researchers propose an Excel-based scheduling model for “the flexible allocation and reallocation of nurses” (Tuominen et al., 2016, p. 22). It is evident from the research that the proposed solution significantly supports the obtaining of a well-balanced schedule with fewer employment costs (Tuominen et al., 2016). Also, it is argued that this model saves managers’ time when they reallocate nursing staff (Tuominen et al., 2016).

Comparison with Other Strategies

Further, it is possible to compare the proposed solution with other strategies that might be implemented. As it was mentioned in the previous paper, the policy of raising the salaries and providing paths for career growth could be a significantly positive alternative; however, it would imply additional costs. Also, the study by Hughes, Bobay, Jolly, & Suby (2015) investigated the correlation between the nurse workload and patient churn. It is proposed by the researchers that clinical managers have to make churn-based adjustments, which would help in saving the budget for nurse staffing (Hughes et al., 2015). This strategy is somewhat similar in outcomes to the one, which was proposed in the previous section.

Desired Outcomes and Possible Time Frame

Finally, the outcomes of the proposed solution and the possible time frame of its implementation should be discussed. It is evident from the research that one of the most plausible results will be the increased level of patient safety (Glette, Aase, & Wiig, 2017). It should also be mentioned that the quality of care will also be improved with the decreased amount of understaffed shifts (Twigg, Gelder, & Myers, 2015). Concerning the time frame, one can assume that the intervention under discussion should be implemented for a month to test the proposed outcomes and to make further adjustments.


In conclusion, it should be noted that the necessity of an efficient solution for the problem of understaffing is undeniable. In this paper, the analysis of the given issue was conducted, using the PICOT framework. The intervention was proposed along with the discussion of population, compared with other strategies, and possible outcomes.


Glette, M. K., Aase, K., & Wiig, S. (2017). The relationship between understaffing of nurses and patient safety in hospitals—A literature review with thematic analysis. Open Journal of Nursing, 7(12), 1387-1429.

Hughes, R. G., Bobay, K. L., Jolly, N. A., & Suby, C. (2015). Comparison of nurse staffing based on changes in unit‐level workload associated with patient churn. Journal of Nursing Management, 23(3), 390-400.

Lake, E. (2016). Improving the lives of fragile newborns: What does nursing have to offer? Web.

Tappen, R. M. (2016). They know me here: Patients’ perspectives on their nursing home experience. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 21(1). Web.

Tuominen, O. A., Lundgren-Laine, H., Kauppila, W., Hupli, M., & Salanterä, S. (2016). A real-time Excel-based scheduling solution for nursing staff reallocation. Nursing Management, 23(6), 22-29.

Twigg, D. E., Gelder, L., & Myers, H. (2015). The impact of understaffed shifts on nurse‐sensitive outcomes. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(7), 1564-1572.

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