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Two female nurses wearing light blue scrubs are standing in a neo-natal intensive care unit and looking at a clipboard while discussing a change of shift report. There are incubators and monitoring equipment lined up against a wall.

Five Nurse Staffing Solutions

4 minMarch, 21 2024

Appropriate nurse staffing contributes to improved patient outcomes and greater satisfaction for both patients and nurses. Nurse staffing solutions support nurses, patients, and the nation’s health and well-being. 

Achieving appropriate staffing requires  commitment and ongoing effort by organizational and nursing leaders, nurse managers, and staff nurses. Some nurse staffing solutions such  as new health care finance models and expanding the education pipeline to prepare more nurses can take years to achieve. Others can be implemented relatively quickly with buy-in and support from stakeholders. 

Examples of Five Nurse Staffing Solutions 

1) Set-up a Site or Multi-Site Float Pool 

Float pools give nurses work option flexibility and create a flexible work environment to improve employee engagement and the patient experience while reducing agency overtime and vacancy and turnover rates.  

2) Use a Standardized Tool to Measure Stress Injury 

Using a Standardized Tool to Measure Stress Injury is a starting point for preventing nurse burnout. A standardized tool enables nurses to measure, describe burnout, moral distress, and compassion fatigue, which all negatively impact nurse retention. When nurses leave a workplace, it strains staffing levels. Preventing nurse burnout is a key nurse staffing tool. 

Take a Stress Self-Assessment  here.

3) Build Conversations About Well-Being Into Everyday Practice 

When nurse managers and leaders build conversations about well-being into staff meetings, unit or shift huddles, employee evaluations and more, they raise awareness of and normalize accessing well-being resources. Staff resilience supports staff retention, which eases strains on staffing.  

Find more well-being resources by visiting Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™; the Well -Being Initiative;  and the ANA Members Burnout Prevention Program

4) Create and Share a Nursing Diversity Dashboard

A Nursing Diversity Dashboard contributes to inclusive excellence, which is linked to psychological safety and improves retention. Track overall, nursing, nursing leadership, and C-Suite improvements across new hires, as well as 90-day, 6-month, 1 year turnover, and RN satisfaction. 

5) Advocate for Safe Staffing Policies and Regulations 

When nurses advocate for safe staffing policies, regulations and legislation their voices carry, and make change happen. 

Safe staffing is one of ANA’s core federal policy priorities. We work closely with our constituent and state nurses associations to monitor and advocate for state-level policies, which generally follow three approaches:

  • Staffing committees. Nurse-led groups that create unit-level staffing plans based on a patient population’s acuity and needs, matched with staff’s skills and experience.
  • Mandated nurse to patient ratios or standards, in legislation or regulation. 
  • Mandated disclosure of staffing levels, to the public and/or regulatory bodies. 

ANA supports a legislative model incorporating nurse-driven staffing committees because this approach encourages flexible staffing levels. At least 55 % of staffing committee members should be direct care nurses.

Learn more about federal safe staffing legislation here .  


More About Nurse Staffing Solutions

The Nurse Staffing Task Force, convened by ANA and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, defines appropriate staffing as a “dynamic process that aligns the number of nurses, their workload, expertise, and resources with patient needs in order to achieve quality patient outcomes within a healthy work environment .” 

The Task Force detailed five imperatives for achieving appropriate staffing: 

  • Reform the Work Environment
  • Innovate Models For Care Delivery
  • Establish Staffing Standards That Ensure Quality Care
  • Improve Regulatory Efficiency
  • Value the Unique Contributions of Nurses 

The Task Force also issued 16 long-term recommendations and 65 actions for nurse staffing solutions.

ANA, along with four other leading health care organizations, also convened a Nurse Staffing Think Tank that developed 150 actionable strategies implementable within 12 to 18 months to achieve nurse staffing solutions.

Nurse Staffing Resources

ANA offers free resources to identify the major elements necessary to achieve optimal staffing: 


Image sourced from Getty Images

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