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Common Issues in Nursing: How Nurse Managers Can Help

4 min readSeptember, 18 2023

The nursing profession comes with many rewards and accompanying challenges. To support your nursing staff so they can focus on providing quality care, proactively address these common issues for nurses — and implement positive changes to help your team overcome daily hurdles.

Nursing Issue #1: Inadequate Staff

Focusing on value-based and holistic patient-centered care requires a larger, more diverse, and highly educated nursing workforce. But maintaining adequate staffing remains an ongoing issue. Insufficient staffing can contribute to other nursing issues affecting job satisfaction, such as burnout, high staff turnover, scheduling dissatisfaction, less time to provide quality patient care, and a poor work-life balance.

Tips to Tackle Staffing Issues

Nurse leaders constantly deal with the hiring and retention of nursing staff. There isn't a quick fix for the nursing shortage, but you can take steps to alleviate the issue.

  • Review your onboarding program to ensure it continues past the initial orientation. A better grasp of your organization's values and mission may encourage nurses to stay and prompt them to recommend working there.
  • Ensure your wage and benefit package is competitive. Evaluate comparable positions in similar organizations in your area and advocate for wage or benefit changes as necessary.
  • Seek staff feedback on what's working well and what needs improvement. Facilitate open lines of communication through regular team meetings and opportunities to meet individually.
  • Implement a staff survey to uncover underlying nursing practice issues. Communicating with nursing staff — and making internal improvements based on their input — can improve trust and nurture a more positive outlook for your nursing team.
  • Offer flexible work schedules and hire part-time and per diem staff.

Nursing Issue #2: Mental Health Concerns

Nurses experience daily on-the-job stress, often with little time to process the events. A shortage of nurses has placed greater demands on individuals, making the need for increased mental health awareness imperative.

Tips to Tackle Mental Well-Being

Your team counts on you to advocate for their mental health and well-being. Be proactive in addressing their concerns.

  • Raise awareness by normalizing conversations about mental health, encouraging nurses to express their concerns, and listening and learning from their feedback.
  • Examine the workplace culture to determine if it provides support, encourages meaningful dialogue, and builds positive relationships.
  • Plan a routine debriefing after an incident to allow time to address concerns and identify issues.
  • Provide internal resources by offering employee assistance programs and educational programs. The Well-Being Initiative provides various resources to help nurses prioritize their mental health care.
  • Promote self-care by encouraging communication around stress management. If necessary, assist staff in prioritizing tasks and encourage delegation as appropriate.
  • Help your staff identify early signs of burnout or other mental health issues in themselves and their co-workers and encourage intervention.

Nursing Issue #3: Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Nurses may leave an organization if they don't see opportunities for advancement or feel their contributions aren't valued. Committing to nurturing career growth by offering chances for internal development, educational improvement, and succession planning may prompt nurses to stay.

Tips to Tackle Career Growth

Use your leadership skills to foster an environment where your staff is knowledgeable about current healthcare trends.

  • Promote education by advocating for time off for conferences, providing information on continuing education courses, and encouraging the pursuit of nursing certification or advanced degrees.
  • Implement cross-training so nurses can become energized with additional roles that help prevent career stagnation.
  • Develop a mentoring program by pairing nurses with peers or someone from a different unit or organization. These one-on-one relationships could grow over the years and assist with career development.
  • Show transparency with succession planning by developing competencies to assess readiness for advancement. These plans may include annual reviews, adherence to the company's mission statement, commitment to positive organizational culture, and desire for further development.

A smiling female nurse

Nursing Issue #4: Fear of Workplace Violence

An unsafe work environment can result in decreased job satisfaction, loss of work due to injury, and an inability to provide quality patient care. Acts of nursing workplace violence often go unreported. Nurses may be at an increased risk of physical or verbal abuse from patients, family members, or co-workers.

Tips to Tackle Workplace Violence

As a leader, it's your responsibility to ensure a safe, secure environment for your staff and patients. Implement strategies to make workplace safety a priority.

  • Nurture a healthy and positive work environment by promoting a culture that holds people accountable for negative behaviors such as incivility or bullying. Model the desired behavior by making yourself approachable and practicing peaceful communication.
  • Note times when there's a higher risk of violence. These periods may include when patients get transferred, wake from anesthesia, or get diagnosed with cognitive impairment, substance abuse, or acute psychiatric needs.
  • Identify and address how to safely provide care when physically close to a patient or while performing uncomfortable procedures. Encourage nurses to assess verbal and nonverbal behaviors displayed in body language to help identify signs of escalation.
  • Train all staff in de-escalation techniques and workplace violence prevention.
  • Develop a zero-tolerance policy regarding appropriate conduct for patients and staff and support a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program.
  • These examples serve as a starting point for addressing common problems in nursing practice. Prioritize your focus on the nursing issues most relevant to your team so your staff can continue to provide quality patient care and feel satisfied in their careers.


Images sourced from Getty Images

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