Resources for

Staffing in Acute & Critical Care

Staffing: New Approaches Are Crucial

Inappropriate nurse staffing is a persistent and significant barrier to delivering optimal patient care and one of the most dangerous threats to patient safety and nurse well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this challenge to the point of crisis.

It will take a collaborative effort to change the staffing paradigm in our country to one that values nurse staffing as an investment in patient safety and better outcomes rather than an expense.

We know that appropriate staffing ensures an effective match between the needs of the patient and family, and the knowledge, skills and abilities of the nurse. It sounds simple, and yet it is not. It is time to stop bandaging our current staffing model—new approaches are crucial.

Advocacy in Action: Leading the Way for Appropriate Staffing

In partnership with the American Nurses Association, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, AACN led an initiative to identify strategies that address the crisis in acute and critical care staffing.

AACN convened the Partners for Nurse Staffing, which launched a Nurse Staffing Think Tank and Nurse Staffing Task Force. Together we created new staffing solutions that advance patient outcomes while ensuring a better work environment for nurses and all members of the healthcare team.

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Nurse Staffing Solutions From Our Community

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Developing an Internal Staffing Agency
As a way to address adequate healthcare staffing, while also maintaining consistent training, read how one healthcare system launched its own national travel program for nurses.
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Acuity-Based Staffing
Read how one hospital implemented an acuity-based staffing tool that uses existing EHR data to provide real-time information about patient needs, supporting efficient and fair assignment of patients to nursing staff.
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Flexible Service Line Staffing
With an increase in staff turnover and lasting impacts of the pandemic, nurse leaders at one hospital developed several solutions that supported staffing across their service line. Read about the steps they took and the resulting impact to staff and leaders.

Share Your Innovative Staffing Solutions

Nurses are innovative and flexible when faced with a challenge. While AACN is exploring large-scale and collaborative staffing transformations, we know you are innovating at the unit level to find new ways to approach nurse staffing.

Please share the new and different approaches you have taken that resulted in improvements to staffing. Your experience can inspire others, and even small steps move us all closer to our goal of appropriate staffing for all healthcare institutions. Together, we can shine a light on creative solutions that are happening now.

Key Nurse Staffing Resources

AACN, a longtime champion for appropriate staffing, offers many resources. These featured resources can help you navigate staffing challenges, seek solutions and make your optimal contribution to support a healthy work environment and care for patients and their families.

Nurse Staffing Task Force Imperatives, Recommendations and Actions

Review recommendations and actions put forth by the Nurse Staffing Task Force that address five imperatives: reforming the work environment, innovating care delivery, establishing standards, improving regulatory efficiency, and recognizing the value of nursing.

Nurse Staffing Think Tank: Priority Topics and Recommendations

Review a set of priorities and recommendations, developed by the Nurse Staffing Think Tank, that provide immediate strategies that can be feasibly implemented in the short term (12-18 months) to help address the nurse staffing crisis.

Strategies to Support Nurse Staffing

Consider how you can help your colleagues and nurse leaders implement six strategies to promote effective nurse staffing, including participating in staffing decisions and delegating tasks.

Team Nursing and COVID-19 Surge Staffing

Short staffing is a pervasive and increasing crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. New models are needed to mitigate this crisis and support acute and critical care nurses. Review this blog and its accompanying video to learn more about actions nurses can take to make team nursing effective.

AACN Guiding Principles for Appropriate Staffing

These principles, developed with input from our community, represent the next bold step in creating staffing solutions. They serve as the foundation for our ongoing staffing work.

Additional Resources

We offer journal articles, webinars, books and other materials to help with staffing challenges. Explore AACN’s many resources to support your journey to appropriate staffing and healthy work environments.

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