6 Challenges Faced by Nursing Administrators

Nurse administrators are part of the executive team that manages nurses. They rarely interact with patients and primarily perform managerial duties. However, even in leadership roles, the main and end goal of nurses is guaranteeing the best possible care for patients. Nurse administrators can better understand the struggles of their nursing staff as they have first-hand experience regarding nursing work. This makes them ideal for administrator and managerial roles.

Nurses who want to advance their careers by becoming nurse administrators require further education and training. If you already work as a nurse, then a masters in nursing administration online can be the right choice for you. This online master’s program has additional coursework in leadership, making you qualified to become a nurse administrator.

As a nursing administrator, you can broaden your prospects beyond clinical settings and find opportunities in nursing homes, hospitals, public health offices, and rehabilitation centers. The Bureau of labor statistics predicts a 32% growth in job opportunities for management positions in healthcare settings.

Nursing administration is a promising and rewarding career. However, nurses in leadership roles can still face several challenges. What could these challenges be? Let’s discuss;

1.      Insufficient Nurse-Patient Ratio

Every nurse administrator considers maintaining an adequate nurse-to-patient ratio their greatest struggle. An unbalanced nurse-patient ratio can be dangerous for nurses and their patients. A low nurse to patient ratio leads to the following issues;

  • Nurses are overworked, increasing their chances of injury and burnout.
  • Patients do not get the required standard of care, which can lead to death or injury
  • Patients who require more attention for subtle and invisible symptoms get sent home early, only for them to return even sicker.

Appropriate nurse staffing is a consistent issue faced by nurse administrators. Maintaining a suitable nurse-to-patient ratio can lead to better patient care. Fewer patients per nurse allow nurses to make informed treatment plans for patients. A sufficient number of nurses in a hospital setting can ensure better patient care and content nursing staff. 

In the US, California is the only state with mandatory limits on the number of patients per nurse at a time. Similar systems can be adapted by other states— to ensure the safety of the nurses and the provision of quality patient care. 

2.      Limited Resources and Facilities

High-quality patient care requires high-quality resources. Nursing administrators list the lack of resources and facilities as one of the critical issues they face. Lack of facilities can negatively affect the productivity of nurses while also compromising quality patient care.

The job stress resulting from unavailable resources can negatively affect nurses’ quality of work. The scarcity of resources can lead to incomplete and pending tasks piling up. Lack of facilities for the nursing staff can also lower their job output.

Nurse administrators struggle to ensure the availability of sufficient resources to continue the provision of top-notch patient care. They also try to ensure the availability of basic facilities for nurses to increase their productivity and efficiency on the job.

3.      Lack of Respect

Nursing is a noble career path, but some nurses do not receive respect. Even nurses in administrative and executive positions can be disregarded by the hospital staff including, doctors. Sometimes they can be insulted by their patients. These patients can be ill-mannered, bad-tempered, or choose to ignore the nurse’s advice. Dealing with such patients can be a real challenge for nurses.

Disrespect can lead to burnout for some nurses making them less productive and efficient. They can become disheartened, losing interest in their jobs. This can also lead to nurse absenteeism. For nurse administrators already dealing with a high nurse-patient ratio, this additional issue can cause extra stress.

 In such situations, boosting the morale of the entire staff is a huge challenge for the nursing administrator. Ensuring that the hospital staff respects all nurses regardless of their job grade, work experience, or religious and ethnic background can be a major responsibility for nurse administrators.

4.      Multi-Generational Workforce

The nursing workforce spans several generations. Managing a nursing team with generational gaps can be challenging for a nurse administrator. Every member belonging to a specific generation has a different work attitude and communication style. A wise administrator will see a multi-generational team as an asset. Nurse administrators need to understand these generational differences and devise a strategy that allows a smooth work environment among diverse team members.

Nursing administrators with exemplary communication and negotiation skills can create a symbiotic environment for their multi-generational workforce. A work environment like that will allow nurses of all generations to feel confident about their abilities. In addition, the nursing administrator can create a collaborative environment where members of different ages can learn from each other. For example, older nurses can teach their years of experience dealing with several issues to the younger nurses, while young nurses can teach new techniques developed for patient care to the experienced nurses.

Hence, a strong nursing team equipped with both the old and new techniques is created.

5.      Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Nurses

Recruiting educated and experienced nurses and holding on to them is another challenge the nursing administrators face.

In this modern era, increased focus on healthy living has led to more healthcare institutes. Hence, competition to hire the most qualified nursing staff has also increased. With better pay packages being offered elsewhere, holding onto experienced nurses becomes difficult. Organizational commitment demands the willingness of nurses to dedicate all their efforts and loyalty to a specific organization. However, certain factors like less opportunity for growth, less salary, and workplace conflict can hinder their motivation to work.

Nursing administrators have to design strategies to provide job flexibility, opportunities for growth, and a sense of belonging to their nursing team. They have to introduce new and attractive job descriptions and salary packages to hire qualified nurses. They also have to provide incentives and come up with new ideas to hold on to their experienced nurses in the long run.

6.      Limited Power

Nurse administrators are not at the top of the management team. They report to upper management working above them. The executive board of a hospital has members from all departments. Only two to three members represent the nurses. Sometimes these nurse representatives may not have much authority, or they may not be able to convey the issues effectively. This inefficient chain of management can result in delayed decisions. Nurse administrators can’t implement a rule without the approval of the board. Therefore, simple issues can take a long time to get resolved.  

Take Away

Nurse administrators perform an essential role in a healthcare setup. They juggle a lot of different duties at once and their role can be rewarding personally and financially. However, there are several challenges that they can face in their jobs.

Nurse administrators have to come up with solutions to the challenges we have discussed in this article. They can strategize and implement plans. Sometimes they may require help from upper management and sometimes even government officials to make grassroots changes in regulations and laws. Nurse administrators can effectively lead a team of nurses to provide quality patient care while dealing with all the discussed challenges.


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