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American Nurses Association Releases Updated Principles for Nurse Staffing

Shannon McClendon, 301-628-5391

Joan Hurwitz, 301-628-5020

SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) today released an update to its “Principles for Nurse Staffing” (the Principles), a guide to help nurses and other decision-makers identify and develop processes and policies to improve nurse staffing for the best interest of patients and nurses.  Drawing on decades of research and best practices, the updated Principles address the complexities of nursing practice in today’s health care system and the demands placed on nurses who care for patients across all care settings.  

ANA believes that providing appropriate nursing resources must account for human factors including a nurse’s years of experience, knowledge, education, skill set and patient mix, acuity and intensity. This flexible approach to nurse staffing is associated with improved patient outcomes, including reduced mortality rates, shorter stays, lower readmission rates and reduced incidents of hospital-acquired conditions. Direct-care nurses, working with nurse managers and financial managers, are the best judge of what patients need day to day and even hour by hour. 

“No two health care settings are the same, and no single health care setting is exactly the same from one hour to the next. Our approach to nurse staffing accounts for the many factors that impact how nurses attend to patients in their care,” said ANA President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “It is essential that nurses have a substantive and active role in staffing decisions, as they know best how to ensure they have the necessary time, resources  and team members to meet patients’ care needs and their overall nursing responsibilities. When that happens, the outcomes are more favorable for everyone.”

ANA’s “Principles for Nurse Staffing” emphasizes that:

  • Nurses at all levels must have a role in nurse staffing decisions
  • All health care settings have well-developed staffing guidelines with measurable outcomes
  • Nurse staffing needs are based on multiple factors, including patient status and nurse competencies
  • Nurse staffing is more than numbers, and one size does not fit all
  • Flexibility and teamwork are essential to effectively meet the ever-changing needs of patients

 “Our goal is to shift the paradigm about nurse staffing so that nurses’ contributions to positive patient outcomes are understood,  valued and viewed as a priority investment rather than a discretionary expense,” said Grant. 

As the leading voice for the nation’s 4 million registered nurses, ANA is a strong advocate for appropriate nurse staffing in all health care settings. ANA plans to educate nurses about the updated principles and how to apply them in their work environment through a webinar being released on October 2nd  and other tools. 

In addition to widely sharing the updated Principles and shifting the paradigm,  ANA is working with  federal officials to compel the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide Congress with information about how the agency assesses “adequate” nurse staffing levels as part of its 2020 budget request. 

About the American Nurses Association

Founded in 1896, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a professional association that represents the interests of the nation’s registered nurses. All registered nurses are eligible to join ANA. ANA has affiliations with 50 state and constituent nurses’ associations.  Reflective of the profession, ANA’s membership is inclusive of many roles, including direct care nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, nurse educators and nurse managers, who work in a wide range of settings such as acute care hospitals, clinics, long-term care, schools and other settings.  Approximately 50 percent of ANA’s members are direct care, staff nurses. 

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit

For high-resolution images of the ANA logo or photos of ANA leadership, please click here.

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