Competing needs arise within any organization as employees seek to meet their targets and leaders seek to meet company goals. As a leader, successful management of these goals requires establishing priorities and allocating resources accordingly. Within a healthcare setting, the needs of the workforce, resources, and patients are often in conflict. Mandatory overtime, implementation of staffing ratios, use of unlicensed assisting personnel, and employer reductions of education benefits are examples of practices that might lead to conflicting needs in practice. Leaders can contribute to both the problem and the solution through policies, action, and inaction. In this Assignment, you will further develop the white paper you began work on in Module 1 by addressing competing needs within your organization. To Prepare: Review the national healthcare issue/stressor you examined in your Assignment for Module 1, and review the analysis of the healthcare issue/stressor you selected. Identify and review two evidence-based scholarly resources that focus on proposed policies/practices to apply to your selected healthcare issue/stressor. Reflect on the feedback you received from your colleagues on your Discussion post regarding competing needs. The Assignment (1-2 pages): Developing Organizational Policies and Practices Add a section to the 2-3 page paper you submitted in Module 1. The new section should address the following in 1-2 pages: Identify and describe at least two competing needs impacting your selected healthcare issue/stressor. Describe a relevant policy or practice in your organization that may influence your selected healthcare issue/stressor. Critique the policy for ethical considerations, and explain the policy’s strengths and challenges in promoting ethics. Recommend one or more policy or practice changes designed to balance the competing needs of resources, workers, and patients, while addressing any ethical shortcomings of the existing policies. Be specific and provide examples. Cite evidence that informs the healthcare issue/stressor and/or the policies, and provide two scholarly resources in support of your policy or practice recommendations.
Competing needs within healthcare organizations often pose challenges for leaders in achieving a balance between meeting employee targets and company goals. These needs encompass the workforce, available resources, and patient care, often leading to ethical dilemmas. This paper explores the competing needs within a healthcare organization and suggests policy and practice changes to address these issues while promoting ethics. Specifically, it focuses on mandatory overtime, staffing ratios, and the use of unlicensed assisting personnel as potential sources of conflict.
In the context of a healthcare organization, competing needs can be exemplified by the tension between the need to maintain appropriate staffing levels and the need to control labor costs. Mandatory overtime, for instance, may be used as a short-term solution to address staffing shortages, but it can lead to burnout among healthcare workers and negatively impact patient care (Hessels et al., 2021). Additionally, the implementation of staffing ratios can create a conflict between the desire to provide safe patient care and the financial constraints faced by the organization (Aiken et al., 2018). Furthermore, the use of unlicensed assisting personnel, while cost-effective, may compromise patient safety and quality of care (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2020).
In our organization, we have a policy that allows for mandatory overtime in cases of severe staffing shortages. While this policy serves to ensure that we can meet patient care needs during emergencies, it has been increasingly used as a regular practice to cover staffing gaps, leading to employee dissatisfaction and burnout. The policy does not adequately address the long-term impact on employee well-being and patient safety.
The policy permitting mandatory overtime has both strengths and challenges concerning ethics. On one hand, it ensures that patient care needs are met during critical situations. However, its regular use as a staffing solution raises ethical concerns related to employee well-being, work-life balance, and patient safety. Employees subjected to frequent mandatory overtime are at risk of burnout, which can compromise their ability to provide safe and effective care (McHugh et al., 2019).
To address the competing needs of maintaining adequate staffing levels while promoting ethical considerations, the following policy and practice changes are recommended:
Staffing Flexibility: Implement a flexible staffing model that allows for adjustments based on patient census and acuity. This approach would enable us to maintain adequate staffing levels during peak times without resorting to mandatory overtime.
Invest in Education and Training: Increase investment in staff education and training programs to enhance the skills of existing employees, reducing the reliance on unlicensed assisting personnel.
These changes promote ethical considerations by prioritizing employee well-being and patient safety. They reduce the need for mandatory overtime and unlicensed assisting personnel, thereby improving the quality of care provided. Additionally, investing in education and training aligns with ethical principles of continuous improvement and professional development.
Implementing policy and practice changes is only the first step in addressing competing needs in healthcare organizations. It is equally important to establish a robust system for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of these changes over time. This process should involve key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuous data collection.
For instance, regarding the introduction of staffing flexibility, organizations can track metrics such as nurse-to-patient ratios during different shifts and the incidence of nurse burnout. In the case of increased investment in education and training, measurable outcomes could include improved patient satisfaction scores, reduced rates of medication errors, and increased retention rates among nursing staff.
Regular assessments allow healthcare organizations to adapt to changing circumstances and fine-tune their policies and practices accordingly. The data collected can inform decisions about staffing levels, the allocation of resources, and the overall quality of patient care. In essence, this approach ensures that competing needs are continually balanced while maintaining a commitment to ethical principles.
Transparency and open communication between leadership and frontline healthcare workers are pivotal in addressing competing needs effectively. When nurses and other healthcare professionals have a voice in organizational decisions, it fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment. Encouraging feedback and active participation can lead to more informed and sustainable policy changes.
Leadership teams should actively seek input from staff regarding staffing levels, workload, and the impact of policy changes. This feedback can help leaders make more informed decisions and avoid unintended consequences. For example, nurses on the frontlines can provide insights into how staffing ratios affect their ability to deliver safe patient care.
Moreover, transparency in decision-making processes is essential for building trust within the organization. When employees understand why certain policies are being implemented or modified, they are more likely to support these changes. Transparency also aligns with ethical principles by demonstrating an organization’s commitment to fairness and accountability.
To address the competing needs within healthcare organizations effectively, it is vital to prioritize employee engagement and well-being. Healthcare professionals, especially nurses, often experience high levels of stress due to the demanding nature of their work. Policies and practices should aim to reduce this stress and promote the overall well-being of the workforce.
One important approach is to provide resources for employee assistance programs (EAPs) that offer counseling and support services. This can help healthcare workers cope with the emotional toll of their jobs and reduce burnout rates. Moreover, fostering a culture of work-life balance is essential. Encourage employees to take regular breaks, use their paid time off, and provide flexible scheduling options when possible.
While addressing competing needs, healthcare organizations should never lose sight of their primary mission: delivering patient-centered care. All policy and practice changes should be aligned with improving patient outcomes and experiences. To achieve this, organizations can implement the following strategies:
Patient and Family Engagement: Encourage patients and their families to actively participate in care decisions. This not only enhances the patient experience but also contributes to better-informed treatment plans.
Continuous Quality Improvement: Implement systems for ongoing quality improvement and patient safety initiatives. Regularly review patient outcomes, incidents, and feedback to identify areas for improvement.
Staff Training: Invest in ongoing training for healthcare professionals to ensure they are up to date with the latest evidence-based practices. This investment not only benefits employees but also directly impacts patient care quality (Blegen et al., 2017).
Finally, promoting ethical leadership at all levels of the organization is essential in addressing competing needs. Ethical leaders set the tone for the entire organization by modeling ethical behavior and decision-making. They prioritize values such as integrity, transparency, and fairness in all actions and interactions.
Ethical leaders also encourage a culture of accountability, where individuals take responsibility for their actions and decisions. This can help prevent unethical practices, such as cutting corners to meet targets at the expense of patient safety.
Competing needs within healthcare organizations, such as staffing levels, labor costs, and patient care, require thoughtful policy and practice changes to strike a balance while upholding ethical standards. By implementing staffing flexibility and investing in education and training, organizations can address these challenges, promote employee well-being, and ensure the delivery of high-quality patient care.