Why Nurse-To-Patient Staffing Ratios Matter

NursingNovember 21, 2017

We mark Nursing Professional Development Week as the week that recognizes the work performed by nursing professionals and those who teach others about nursing development. Virtually everybody appreciates the critical role nurses play in providing quality healthcare, but not everyone understands the importance of maintaining safe RN-to-patient staffing levels in order to achieve that quality care.

Maintaining a proper mix of nursing staff is a critical component of quality patient care, yet many states fail to take legislative action to mandate minimum staffing levels. While federal regulations stipulate hospitals must maintain “adequate levels of nurses” to care for patients the language is open to interpretation. Fewer than one-third of our states require hospitals to have nurse-driven staffing committees, and fewer still stipulate minimum nurse-patient ratios by law.

Nursing associations nationwide…and nurses themselves…are petitioning for legislation that hold hospitals accountable for meeting minimum staffing levels. An American Nurses Association website says inadequate staffing levels “are linked to high rates of patient falls, infections, medication errors and even death.”

While most hospitals realize adequate staffing impacts safety and quality of care, those struggling to balance their bottom lines may overlook their nurses. Nursing budgets, for example, are being cut all across the country meaning fewer nurses being asked to do more work. As one nurse-author mused: “If nurses continue to be driven out of the profession by burnout (and) under-staffing…we are no closer to a solution than before.”

The debate over nurse “safe staffing” won’t go away any time soon, making it all that much more important for the nurses we do have to undergo continued nursing development. And why “Nurses Week” should be observed 52 weeks a year!

Nurses are that important.

Nursing is a career that’s been called part science, part art…and ALL care! Fortis College and Institute campuses in several states can help you enter the nursing profession through Associate Degree in Nursing (RN), Practical Nursing and/or Vocational Nursing programs. There’s also an RN to BSN online program available through affiliated Denver School of Nursing for those seeking an advanced degree in the field.

Check out our Nursing program page for more information, and maybe we’ll soon see you working at the cutting edge of healthcare.