Nursing Workload and Patient Safety Free Essay Sample


The United States faces an increased demand for nursing professionals in hospitals and other health care facilities. On the other hand, the number of nurses graduating into the profession is not increasing in the same rate as their demand. As a result, hospitals and other health institutions have to increase the working times of the present nurses. It is now common for nurses to work extensively on overtime just to match the demand for their services. The issue causes nurses to suffer fatigue, which compromises their patient care ability. I strongly disagree with the above claim that nurses are overworked.

Nurses are not overworked

Nurses face various situations in the hospital that require them to make rational choices instantly. They receive training on how to deal with emergencies as well as normal health conditions. Thus, the claim of overworking nurses is false. Many people go into the nursing profession due to their passion to assist people and not for the money. Therefore, they are motivated to assist as many patients as possible.

Previously, the government trained very few nurses. However, nurse shortages prompted for a reversal of that policy (Chang, et al., 2005). The nursing selection and training is vigorous enough to eliminate any person not keen on the professional demands of nursing. Everyone who becomes a nurse knows that the job requires his or her commitment at all times. Although they enjoy day-offs, leaves and normal working hours, nurses know that they should be on call always. The nature of emergencies does no give nurses the luxury of avoiding overtime at work.

There are different aspects of nursing, apart from general nursing, which require additional skills and proficiency. These specializations demand extra commitments on the part of the nurse during training (Carayon & Gurses, 2008). Given that the specialized nurses attract a higher pay than general nurses do, the professions attract many applicants. People who have a calling on helping people would like to do so with high pay. The high number of applicants forces institutions to use a rigorous selection process. The process ensures that only the best and most prepared for the profession eventually turn to be nurses. The demanding process prepares all nurses for what will later come when they are in the job.

Complaints saying that nurses are overworked point to their negligence at work as an effect. Some say that nurses are uncaring. People expect nurses to share emotional connections with their patients. The reality is that nurses handle many cases in a day and they cannot afford to attach themselves. This does not imply that they are uncaring. It also does not mean that they are overworked.

Just like with any other profession, nurses are free to seek medical attention when they are not feeling good. They suffer from the effects of the economy like everyone else. Some face difficulties in some areas of their lives. Different personal conditions affecting nurses cause them to deviate from properly doing their jobs. As far as the nursing job goes, its demands do not exceed the capabilities of the people who serve as nurses. Some nurses do a terrible job, and complain of being overworked. Some hospitals face budget cuts and are understaffed. However, such cases are minute and their solutions appear immediately people raise complaints. These few cases do not represent the entire situation for nurses. Nurses work normally and receive compensation whenever they do overtime. Therefore, there is no issue of overworking.

Nurses are overworked

On the other hand, nurses might actually be overworked. The characteristics of bad nurses offer signs of being overwhelmed (Chang, et al., 2005). Some nurses appear to neglect basis procedures and hygiene requirements (Rauhala, et al., 2007). For example, they have hanging hair, wear dirty shoes and smoke in or around hospitals. Patients complain that nurses neglect them. Nurses have many cases to attend. They prefer to deal with straightforward cases and leave the complicated cases for later. Unfortunately, there is no later for nurses; patients keep streaming into hospitals. Therefore, the neglected patients are a sign of nurse work overload. Some people go into the profession to earn money. If you are motivated to earn more, then work becomes too much as long as your pay does not match your expectations. A high number of dropouts from nursing degrees indicate that the process is arduous. If the training process is that difficult, then what people are training for will demand much more than the training.

Both Views are Right or Wrong

Based on the above arguments for both sides, the two positions could all be right. We can say that nurses are not overworked and at the same time say that nurses are overworked. The first part is a disagreement with the claim that nurses are overworked. This part shows that money is not the main attractiveness of the nursing profession. Therefore, it is wrong to equate the amount earn with the time put to work, and then use that to claim a work overload. The argument rightfully shows that the rigorous training for nurses equips them for the demands of their jobs. Since they are well equipped to handle the situations arising in hospitals, nurses should not claim to be overworked.

The second part of the argument could also be right. It points to the signs of negligence, which may point to a work overload situation. Yes, when nurses are seeing too many patients in a day, they will prefer to work with the easy cases. Eventually, this will present a pile of neglected complicated cases. During their breaks, nurses become hostile to patients, which are an indication that they are facing many demands from work (Fitzpatrick, 2006). They would not like more work demands creeping into their personal time.

Again, assuming another perspective, both arguments for and against nurse’s work overload could be wrong. Rigorous training does not necessarily prepare a person for the emergencies that appear in actual nurse work. The training mindset is different from the working mindset. Secondly, the calling to help other people has its limits. When the demand of work is overwhelming, people would demand more compensation even if they like their jobs. Similarly, claiming that the signs of negligence are indications of work overload is wrong. There are different parameters within and outside the nursing career that influence a nurse to neglect their primary work duties (Carayon & Gurses, 2008).


Overall, the issue of work overload is not important. At any time, there would be mismatches in the number of staff and patients. It is the duty of management to balance the two variables. However, as explained above, each side of the argument has a valid case point. The issue of nurse work overload depends on the perspective that one chooses.


Carayon, P., & Gurses, A. P. (2008). Nursing workload and patient safety – A human factors engineering perspective. In H. R. G (Ed.), Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcase Research and Quality.

Chang, E. M., Hancock, K. M., Johnson, A., Daly, J., & Jackson, D. (2005). Role stress in nurses: Review of related factors and strategies for moving forward. Nursing & Health Sciences, 7(1), 57-65.

Fitzpatrick, J. J. (Ed.). (2006). Encyclopedia of Nursing Research. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Rauhala, A., Mika, K., Lisabeth, F., Marko, E., Mariana, V., Jussi, V., et al. (2007). What degree of work overload is likely to cause increased sickness absenteeism among nurses? Evidence from the RAFAELA patient classification system. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 57(3), 286-295.

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