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Tom Sharon
Daily task of meeting the minimum requirements


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Safe Staffing Levels

Included in the framework of safe staffing levels is the daily task of meeting the minimum requirements for any given shift. Actually, the primary responsibility falls on the staffing coordinators with regard to setting up schedules one month in advance. The final accountability for safe staffing levels falls on the nursing supervisor of the preceding shift. The prevailing practice as of this writing is for the coordinator to schedule employees and take no action to fill in the gaps, even if there is only one nurse scheduled for a seven-bed intensive care unit. The nursing supervisor then spends most of the shift scrambling for nurses, calling off-duty personnel and outside staffing agencies.

You should go to the nursing office and ask, "What percentage of the minimum required number of nurses is on next month's staffing schedule?" In some cases, I have seen zero. If the number is chillingly low, you are not likely to receive a straight answer. So, why bother asking such a question? Because the more that people ask about staffing, the more nursing administrators will realize that there is public suspicion of how they are conducting their internal affairs. They are likely to respond accordingly and voluntarily improve their performance. Secrecy is the weapon by which bureaucrats defend the status quo and resist change. Questions are the daggers by which you can pierce the veil of concealment and transform the reticent bureaucracy to a responsive administration.

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