One issue that I would be looking into at the federal level for which the ANA is advocating change or new policies is nursing shortage. The nursing shortage is currently felt not only in the hospitals but long term care. Professionals are leaving the nursing field and processing careers in other areas that are less overworked. As a current nurse, I have myself faced and currently working through the nurse shortage. For me it all started at the height of the pandemic. Many nurses have died, some are too scared to continue due to COVID, and others to simply put it are burned out.
I am most eager to see a law enacted that will benefit current nurses and future nurses with the shortage to maintain a safe environment for our patients, as well as the staff. I believe when there are not enough nurses, the person that suffers the most is the patient. This has a huge impact on me because, as I stated I am a current nurse, and in the current shortage I can have anywhere from 20-28 patients at a time. This is not safe for me nor the patient. Sometimes my patient may not always get my undivided attention. Majority of my days I am only able to assess the patients current needs, instead of spending the quality time that like I would like if I had fewer patients. For most of my residents I am the only interaction they may get during the day. Passage of such legislation would affect me and my patients by making the total number of patients I care for between 15-18. This would allow me the time to spend with my patients on a personal level, not only meeting their medical needs but their emotional needs. This also would insure less nursing burnout as well as a higher retention rate in a nursing home facility/hospital.
One of the policies that I feel is important to enact is the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act. It offers a balance approach to ensure adequate nurse staffing by recognizing that direct care nurses are best equipped to determine the staffing level of their patients. Without the appropriate nurse coverage in any facility or hospital, patients risk longer hospital stays, increased infections, possible medication errors, falls, injuries, and even death. I fully support the implementation of this policy and very interested in seeing it implemented into nursing care. This will not only promote a safer environment for patients but for staff as well.
To ensure adequate outcomes for patients and reduce their risk for complications during a hospitalization stay, it is imperative to evaluate laws, regulations, and policies aimed at ensuring safe nurse staffing. According to the ANA factors that influence nurse staffing ratios include patient acuity; number of admissions, discharges, transfers, nurse skill level, physical layout of the nursing unit, and access to technological support. Safe nurse staffing ensures that their are an appropriate number of nurses available at all times across the continuum of care, with a mix of suitable education with the needed skills and experience. This ensures that the patients care needs are met and that the working environment and conditions support staff to deliver quality care.