Staffing ratios for nurses are essential to help to address pervasive and chronic problems of inadequate nurse staffing in many hospitals and hopefully some day, nursing homes and other primary care settings. Ratios provide a structure that helps to ensure there are enough skilled caregivers for the number and complexity of patients on any given shift. This is critical for providing safe care.
But it is not the only intervention we need in order to ensure adequate staffing and safe care. We must also advocate for nurses at all levels to have conversations where individual differences, limitations, and resources are respected. As a staff RN, what I can do Monday morning may be different from what I can do on Thursday afternoon and as a human being there are infinite variable that will affect my limitations. How busy my day has been, how tired I am, what physical shape I’m in, what worries I might have going on at home, the relationships I have with my colleagues, whether I had time for a meal break, etc. As such, I need to be able and willing to practice some tough communication skills in the minute-to-minute high stakes, high stress world of healthcare.
The kinds of skills that empower me to:
- Ask for help.
- Delegate tasks.
- Set limits.
- Honor limits of others even when different than my own.
- Address conflict.
- Be open to other ideas.
- Share my ideas.
All of these require effective skills in giving and receiving constructive feedback. (Download this free poster!)
And we need to be able to practice these communication skills in cultures where our limits will be heard and respected! By each other and by leaders! A culture of safety can not be sustained without excellence in communication and respect in the air.
If you are looking for training, please consider a medical improv workshop, interactive workshops on communication, or online course through Pedagogy. As always, my two books on building communication skills are available!
Author, Beth Boynton RN, MS
F.A. Davis Publishing, Co., 2015
Author, Beth Boynton, RN, MS, Editor, Bonnie Kerrick, RN, BSN
CreateSpace 2009, 28.95 (US) Bulk rates available from author!