WANTED: Staffing Solutions

Nearly 9,000 attendees went wild when AACN President Chris Schulman said one word during her keynote address at Monday’s SuperSession: staffing. Staffing is clearly a hot-button issue, and AACN is committed to finding answers to inappropriate staffing. The answers will come from the entire AACN community. All too often, staffing is seen as an operating cost rather than an investment in better patient care and outcomes. According to AACN’s draft version of “Guiding Principles for Appropriate Staffing,” “AACN is dedicated to creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and families where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. When facing a challenge as complex as appropriate nurse staffing, AACN recognizes the importance and urgency of building greater awareness, consensus and, ultimately, momentum on the issue.”

During Tuesday’s special roundtable session, “Advancing Advocacy for Appropriate Staffing,” led by AACN president and staffing champion Chris Schulman, attendees gathered to hear success stories of facilities that have improved outcomes by addressing staffing issues, including one that reduced their CAUTIs and CLABSIs to zero, decreased hospital-acquired pressure ulcers from six to two and decreased patient falls 30 percent.

“Isn’t it so blatantly obvious that when you give staff nurses time and empowerment to figure it out, they will figure it out?” Schulman said. “But if you’re going to take on something of this magnitude, you have to have a thoughtful approach. This is really a moonshot — we’re doing big things and if we don’t play big, nothing will change.”

Schulman then turned the session over to attendees to collaborate on how to shape nine draft principles from “Guiding Principles” into their final form. Nurses were given 20 minutes to interact with one another and rate how each principle corresponds to their own points of view, and how likely and compelled they are to prompt staffing changes on an executive level.

For example, principle #7 states: “The complex challenge of appropriate staffing will require bold and innovative solutions. Organizations must embrace dramatic innovation to devise and systematically test new staffing models, including allocating time for nurses to work together away from direct patient care and … create solutions to care delivery challenges.”

This and the other draft principles had attendees’ gears turning, ideas flowing and solutions proposed, as we witnessed the beginning of a national collaborative to “figure it out.”

5 Responses

  1. Erin Dobbs says:

    We are seeing huge turnover in our organization as they have implemented so many changes including a new staffing matrix. Unfortunately many of our good nurses have left for other organizations & some have left for completely different careers. How can I can get involved in making a change?

  2. Joe Nurse says:

    Though the staffing solution may seem complex, it is in fact very simple. We must advocate for strict ratio laws. Too little staff for too many patients is the problem we must address head on. There is no way to transition slowly through experimentation with pilot programs. We all know what the root cause is, but health systems will have shrink quarterly gains in order to save in the long term and avoid a national crisis. We need laws. We cannot rely on corporate healthcare to do right thing. Thank you.

  3. Andrea Flanagan says:


    We are finally looking at nurses and the very important roles as an investment and as an asset; instead of a commodity and as an expense!
    Our patients deserve this! We deserve this! And I’m so over-the-moon that the AACN will be fhampuoning this both at a local level and at a national level.
    If we can do small things as small chapters, IMAGINE what we can do with our collective voice?


  4. GINA BOHN says:

    Staffing is the #1 challenge we have in nursing. Appreciate your help with solving the issue! Patient safety, quality outcomes, and customer satisfaction are all positively influenced by appropriate staffing. We must tackle this problem before we lose too many registered nurses to other careers.

    • Jeannette says:

      I agree. I and other nurses have been told that since we are short on nursing assistants we had to assume their job. We rotate it so when its our turn we are purely a cna. We cannot do nursing tasks of any sort. I find this very frustrating and a waste of my practice despite its only once and awhile. Im embarrassed when i care for patients and have to explain. I assume the cna role and do nothing related to a rn role. I get paid my rn wage.