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Top 10 tips for coping with short staffing

Staff Shortage

These days, nearly everyone faces staffing challenges. We hope with these creative tips you will be better prepared to cope.

  1. Prioritize your activities

Categorize your nursing activities as high, medium, or low priority. Start with the high-priority activities.  Next, tackle medium-priority duties.  Many low-priority activities can be delegated to a nursing assistant, family members, or volunteers.

  1. Be a team player

Make a rule that no one can sit until everyone can sit. If you finish your work before others, pitch in. Teamwork creates bonds between co-workers, makes difficult situations tolerable, and enhances patient safety.

  1. Use your team wisely

Know what you can and can't delegate according to regulations governing nursing practice in your state and facility job descriptions.

  1. Recruit additional talent

Engage other personnel, not just nurses, to distribute the workload more evenly. The unit clerk, for example, can help you communicate with others.

  1. Communicate effectively—and nicely

Communicate clearly so that everyone knows the plan for surviving the staff shortage. Safeguard the feelings and dignity of all team members. Supporting each other and being kind smooths the way for everyone.

  1. Inform and involve nursing administration

Inform your nurse-manager when staffing is inadequate. They may be able to call in staff, offer overtime or incentive pay, reallocate staff, or employ staff from an agency.

  1. Take care of yourself

During each shift, take a break, even if only briefly. If you can't leave the ward, take a moment for yourself in the break room. Avoid burnout by eating a balanced diet and get enough rest and exercise.

  1. Maintain a positive attitude

Attitude is everything. If you go into a challenging situation with a positive, can-do attitude, you can achieve great results. In contrast, a negative outlook can bring down the morale and performance of the entire team.

  1. Get support when you need it

Sustaining staff shortages for ongoing periods is not feasible.  If you can see it’s starting to take a toll on your team and your own health: Take action.  Report patient care and safety issues to management.  Share concerns with colleagues and speak to contact your union. Nurses Professional Association of Queensland