Nurse Leaders: Balancing Patient Care and Staff Management

Nurse Leaders: Balancing Patient Care and Staff Management

Shane Parker, RN
Co-founder and Chief Nursing Officer

As a healthcare provider, the patient should always come first. However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the needs of your nursing staff. In fact, evidence shows that poor staff management by nursing leaders can lead to disastrous errors on the job. In order to prevent these errors and improve patient care, it’s the job of these nursing leaders to make the right staff management decisions.

Work to Reduce Fatigue

If your nurses are workaholics, it will directly affect their ability to properly care for a patient. Fatigue has been linked to a number of issues, such as increased stress and safety and performance decrements in the work environment. It can come in the form of mental, physical, adrenal, or even total fatigue.

How can you, as a nursing manager, prevent your nurses from feeling this way? Promote healthy living and safe work schedules. The creation of a fatigue-management plan is essential for providing nurses with the time off they need to rest. While you can’t govern what a nurse does when they aren’t on the clock, you can monitor and report their levels of fatigue, give nurses an opportunity to discuss their fatigue concerns, and limit the number of consecutive shifts a nurse is scheduled for.

Utilize Evidence-Based Management Strategies

According to the book “Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses,” by the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Work Environment for Nurses and Patient Safety, there are five essential management practices that can promote a safer and more efficient workplace for nurses and patients. These evidence-based strategies are good tools to utilize, regardless of whether you’re working in a large, bustling hospital or a demanding long-term care facility.

  • Keep a good balance between reliability and efficiency. While these two go hand in hand, it’s important to not sacrifice one for the other.
  • Create and sustain trust among your staff. If your staff believes in the competence of others and is willing to work with anyone, it will create a more efficient work environment.
  • Manage change in the organizational spectrum. Whether your facility has new guidelines or mandates additional training programs, make sure your nurses have an open line of communication to understand the new process.
  • Allow nurses to get involved with decision making. This will help them feel more valued and also give you different opinions and ideas when it comes to how things should work in the future.
  • Give your nurses the chance to learn and grow. By offering training and continuing education, your nurses will be able to provide better and more informed patient care.

Provide the Right Technical Training for the Job

As technology in medicine continues to advance, so too should technology in your specific facility. One of the biggest advancements in recent years has been the transition from paper charting to online records. While this is definitely more convenient for the patient because it gives them instant access to their own medical record, it can be a challenge for older nurses who aren’t used to using computers.

Because patient care is your main focus, it’s important to get your nurses on board with all the new convenient technologies you’re using. Provide training and incentives for learning how to use these new techniques.

Take Advantage of Staff Scheduling Software

At the end of the day, one of the biggest ways to balance staff satisfaction and patient care is through the use of intelligent staff scheduling software like ShiftWizard. With better schedules, your nurses will provide the best patient care possible.

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Healthcare Staff Scheduling. Developed by Nurses for Nurses.

ShiftWizard makes nurse scheduling and communication easy, so you can focus on what really matters---improving patient outcomes.