Nurses need effective leadership and management skills to coordinate the nursing services efficiently. Leadership and management differ in real nursing practice. However, they both ensure that organizations are running well. Huber (2013) defines leaders as people who have followers, sets examples, and are responsible for their actions. Leaders identify themselves with their subjects, and they work towards influencing them to achieve the set objectives. On the other hand, Huber (2013) ascertains that management is different since it involves aspects such as coordinating, controlling, directing, planning, and organizing resources to meet organizational aims. Significantly, leaders guide, teach, and motivate their followers as opposed to managers who coordinate and integrate resources to achieve the set goals. Therefore, leaders and managers can differ in their approach to the issue of nursing staffing ratio. Adequate nurse staffing ensures that both patients and nurses are safe, and thus, it is an important aspect in management and leadership. This paper explains the issue of nurse staffing ratio and then compares and contrasts the way nurse leaders and managers would approach the subject focusing on the personnel, time, and financial literacy, and then it concludes by explaining why leadership fits my personal and professional philosophy and my leadership style well.
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Nurse Staffing Ratio
The low nurse-patient ratio has led to problems not only to patients but also the nurses, allied health professionals, the leadership of hospitals, and the entire healthcare system. To the patients, low nurse-patient ratio jeopardizes the quality of care that they receive. Rahman and Shamsudin (2015) argue that high patient-nurse ratio endangers the safety of patients since nurses find it fatiguing to work for long hours, and thus, poor quality service delivery appears. Similarly, McHugh, Kutney-Lee, Cimiotti, Sloane, & Aiken (2011) state that a high patient-nurse ratio results in job dissatisfaction and burnout among the nurses leading to high turnover rate. When nurses leave their careers, it significantly affects the established relationships that nurses might have developed with the allied health professionals in various facilities. Additionally, the leadership of the affected institutions must plan for the way they intend to hire other nurses. Consequently, the process affects the entire healthcare system. Therefore, nurse leaders and managers must treat the issue of nurse staffing ratio with greater concern to prevent the problems associated with it. However, they contrast in their approach as explained below.
When handling nurse staffing ratio, both leaders and managers aim to have adequate staffing. However, they look at the nursing personnel differently. Huber (2013) ascertains that leaders work with their subordinates, inspiring them, teaching, and advising them on the way forward in any task. Therefore, when leaders receive complaints of the problems associated with the issue of nurse staffing ratio from their followers, they are able to understand them better because the leaders might have already experienced the grievances through their association with their junior co-workers. According to Khan and Ahmad (2012), effective leaders cultivate the art of team building, motivation, and communication. These three aspects are necessary for ensuring that the leaders manage their followers efficiently and understand them when they have any problems. Therefore, nurse leaders can quickly solve the issue of nurse staffing ratio when presented to them.
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On the other hand, Huber (2013) explains that managers control and coordinate services to achieve the organizational objectives. Managers do not work in close collaboration with their subordinates, and thus, they are subjected to difficulties of understanding the grievances that may arise. According to Albrecht, Bakker, Gruman, Macey, & Saks (2015), managers have traditionally not engaged their employees actively in the decision-making process to achieve the organizational goals. Therefore, managers would not listen to the nursing personnel more efficiently than nursing leaders on the issue of nurse staffing ratio. Graham-Dickerson et al. (2013) contend that engaging nurses in making decisions results in nurses feeling valued in the healthcare environment, and it facilitates proper nursing care delivery. However, Graham-Dickerson et al. (2013) further state that managers only view decision making as unilateral. Thus, it is expected that leaders would manage their followers well regarding nursing staffing ratio as opposed to managers.
Both leaders and managers have limited time for work. However, managers primarily view time as a scarce resource. They work within tight constraints of time allocated to them. Abran (2012) argues that managers feel they have much work to do in limited time because they have to plan and coordinate all activities in organizations. Additionally, Abran (2012) contends that most managers blame the lack of time on other constraints such as unachieved goals and meager finances. Consequently, managers are expected to view the time that nurses spend at the workplace as a scarce resource, and thus, they may not address the question of nurse staffing ratio adequately. On the other hand, leaders associate closely with the employees. Therefore, nurse leaders are likely to understand the amount of work that few nurses handle in any given shift. While acting as an example, the nurse leaders can identify the gaps and try to solve the problem by working on filling the gap thereby facilitating the process of tackling the high nurse-patient ratio.
Both managers and leaders must have a grasp of financial concepts to manage their subjects efficiently. While leaders would focus on solving the nurse-staffing ratio based on their experience and the need for more staff, managers would address the issue relying on the available resources. Saarnio, Suhonen, and Isola (2016) argue that nurse managers feel that finances are limited, and thus it should be allocated in an appropriate manner. In doing so, managers are in better position to balance finances with other factors such as staffing in the hospital environment as opposed to leaders.
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Personal Philosophy and Leadership Style
My personal and professional philosophy regarding the nursing profession is to deliver competent care to my patients empathetically in collaboration with my fellow nurses. I recognize that nursing care is holistic and that patients are at the center of the nursing care delivery. Therefore, the approach that fits my style in addressing issues such as nurse staffing ratio perfectly is leadership because it focuses on establishing working relationships with nurses in delivering quality care to patients. Through the healthy relationships, I can notice the problems that nurses face because of inadequate staffing and address them in entirety.
My leadership style is democratic. According to Bhatti, Shaikh, Maitlo, Hashmi, & Shaikh, (2012) democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they consider the grievances of their subordinates. In this regard, the leadership approach is suited to my democratic style because I can deal with nurses directly and involve their experiences in addressing questions such as high patient-nurse ratios in the healthcare environment.
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The vital function that nurses play in the healthcare system requires the hospitals to have safe nurse-to-patient ratios. However, adequate staffing does not often occur, and it affects the quality of care that patients receive. Consequently, nurse staffing ratios is an important aspect of nursing leadership and management. Leaders can handle the nurse staffing ratios based on their experience as opposed to managers who work within scarce resources. In spite of leaders tackling the issue efficiently, managers can supervise the financial aspect competently as opposed to leaders. Nevertheless, leadership approaches fits my personal and professional philosophy since I recognize nursing as a collaborative profession. Significantly, my leadership style is democratic that considers grievances of followers and thus, is an essential aspect of nursing care.