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Feeling overwhelmed by the nursing shortage? Your facility's CEO may not feel your pain. According to noted nursing researcher Peter Buerhaus, RN, PhD, FAAN, and colleagues, 78% of nurses say the nursing shortage is a major barrier to quality nursing care, but only 54% of CEOs say the same. Similarly, 65% of RNs believe the shortage is a major barrier to the early detection of patient complications by nurses, but only 47% of CEOs agree.


The new study, conducted from January 2004 through March 2005, was based on three random surveys sent to RNs, MDs, chief nursing officers (CNOs), and CEOs. Respondents in all groups agreed that the nursing shortage has a negative impact on communication, nurse/patient relationships, timeliness of care, and overall efficiency. But the researchers found some glaring differences in perceptions among the groups. For example, although RNs and CNOs had common perceptions about the negative impact of the nursing shortage on early detection of complications and nurses' ability to maintain patient safety, CEOs and MDs were less likely to share this perception. The study authors conclude that divergences in perceptions "could be important barriers not only to resolving the current nurse shortage but also to improving the quality and safety of patient care."


The research was funded by Johnson & Johnson's Campaign for Nursing's Future.


Source: Buerhaus PI, et al., Impact of the nurse shortage on hospital patient care: Comparative perspectives, Health Affairs, May/June 2007.