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Top issues in nursing — and how nurse leaders can address them.

Sep 19, 2022 | Nursing , Program Insights

Three nurse leaders in scrubs

Nursing has always been a tough profession, but unique challenges up the ante in the 21st century. These days, nurses — and nurse leaders — are called on to provide higher levels of care with fewer resources, particularly in the past two years with the Covid-19 pandemic. They consistently deliver, but many are beginning to feel the strain. Hence, the importance of effective nurse managers who can ease this burden while implementing a healthier work environment. They are a crucial part of the equation for current challenges in nursing. First, however, it is important for aspiring nurse leaders to be aware of the difficulties they may face along the way.

7 Current Challenges in Nursing

Nurses deal with a lot of challenges on a daily basis, and, while some have been expected all along, others are mostly a product of the modern healthcare environment. Below, we identify common issues in nursing — and why skilled nurse leaders are so vital to solving these problems.

1. Work Environment

A healthy work environment can go a long way toward easing the many challenges associated with a medical career path. Many nurses are happy to put up with long hours and difficult patients in exchange for the camaraderie they find with other health care workers and the joy of working as part of a team toward a common goal.

Unfortunately, a significant share of nurses find not camaraderie, but rather, hostility in the workplace. This is reflected in the  AMN Healthcare 2019 Survey of Registered Nurses in which 41 percent of respondents claimed that they had experienced bullying or incivility at work. What’s more, 27 percent said they witnessed workplace violence. Nurse leaders are often aware of these problems, but, without targeted training or sufficient support, may struggle to address workplace conflict. Yes, dealing with difficult nurses is stressful, but the best leaders know how to make the most of difficult situations.

2. Nurse Burnout

With so much on their plate — and sometimes little support — it becomes easy to see why many nurses feel burned out. Passion can only take them so far when they deal with so many challenges day in and day out. Sadly, research published in the open access journal  JAMA Network Open  reveals that nearly one-third of those who have recently left their positions in nursing cite burnout as the main reason, and the stress and overload placed upon them during the Covid pandemic has only exacerbated the issue.

Nurse managers can address this problem by demonstrating an awareness of the challenges nurses face and that they are committed to making positive changes. Often, just knowing they are valued can help prevent feelings of burnout. Nurse leaders who prioritize mental health can help to ensure that the field’s most talented professionals are physically and emotionally capable of meeting the demands of their job.

3. Staff Retention

Burnout is often to blame for issues with nurse retention. In the aforementioned study ,  nearly one in ten respondents revealed they had recently left their nursing jobs. Data cited in the journal  Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!  is even more concerning: as of 2020, a national turnover rate averaging 19.1 percent, with 18 percent of new nurses switching jobs within just one year of graduating from college. These concerning numbers are likely to continue rising as the pandemic continues.

Employers prefer to avoid turnover due to the high costs associated with training and onboarding. From the patient’s perspective, however, the problem is especially alarming as high turnover can dramatically reduce patient satisfaction. Patients who are constantly forced to adapt to new nurses may struggle to develop strong relationships with their health care providers. This, in turn, limits their sense of trust and may have an impact on whether they seek preventative care or follow through on nurses’ recommendations.

4. Adequately Trained Staff

As nursing shortages get worse, employers are often forced to seek less educated professionals who lack the extensive training or expertise needed to provide a high standard of care. Ongoing training can help to bridge this divide, but it can be difficult to dedicate sufficient time or resources to this when facilities are perpetually short on both. This sort of professional development training has had to take a back seat during the pandemic, when hospitals are grossly understaffed, undersupplied, and overwhelmed.

Nurse leaders play an important role in hiring and training staff, looking not only to credentials on resumes when making decisions, but also determining how specific skillsets might be beneficial in a particular environment. Once promising staff members have been hired, it is up to nurse leaders to ensure that they continue to improve with help from ongoing training and actionable feedback.

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5. Patient Experience

Many of the issues highlighted above make it difficult for nurses to provide the quality of care that patients deserve. Due to the shortage, nurses are stretched thin, which means they are not able to be as attentive or caring as they would like. All too often, this results in a negative patient experience. If patient satisfaction scores are low, outcomes tend to suffer, as unhappy patients are less likely to return to obtain the preventative care they require.

Nurse managers can help to improve patient experiences by fostering a healthy and respectful environment in which both health care workers and the patients they serve are treated with dignity and compassion and measures are implemented to help ensure patient satisfaction, such as staff rounding. Effective communication is instrumental, so it is up to nurse leaders to determine where this is lacking and how it can be improved with training, accountability measures, and, of course, setting a positive example. Nurses are usually the ones providing more in-depth explanations for patients, and as evidenced by the rampant misinformation promulgating during the pandemic, people need educated professionals they can trust to provide them with quality information.

6. Safety on the Job

Hazards abound in both nursing and nurse management. Many of these are built into working in a clinical environment; even when using personal protective equipment, nurses risk being exposed to a variety of illnesses. This issue has only been enhanced by the Covid pandemic, with nurses dying from exposure at alarming rates. Other common hazards identified by the  National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)  include:

7. Quality Improvements

While the challenges highlighted above may seem overwhelming at first glance, all can be handled with help from highly trained nurse managers. Quality improvement (QI) is a central component of the modern nurse manager’s job; this involves standardizing and optimizing processes to promote more predictable results for patients and health care workers alike. Under a QI framework, dramatic improvements in both patient care and workplace environment can be quickly obtained.

How to Become a Nurse Leader

The concerns outlined above can be eased with help from passionate nurse leaders who understand what it takes to make a difference. These inspiring professionals play a crucial role in developing a positive work culture and a safe environment for nurses and the other health care workers that nurse managers oversee.

The nursing profession is in a unique position to potentially help improve their working conditions. As the importance of educated, experienced nurses have become more and more clear while the pandemic rages on, nurses can take this opportunity to take leadership roles to help enact positive change. As they become more instrumental in addressing today’s top health care challenges, nurse leaders require targeted education as well as impressive credentials to prove that they are up to the task. Obtaining a  Master of Science in Nursing with an Organizational Leadership specialization  is a key step on the path to long-term career success and, ultimately, positive changes in the nursing world.

Programmatically accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the MSN program at the American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Science at Post University provides well-rounded education. This targeted curriculum offers valuable insight into the role that policies and organizational structures play in outcomes for both individual patients and entire communities. It is a great opportunity for aspiring nurse managers.

If you are interested in making a positive impact in the field of nursing, you could be a great candidate for seeking your MSN, and specifically, an  Organizational Leadership specialization . This is your opportunity to transform the nursing experience, and, with it, improve health outcomes within specific facilities and entire communities.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

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7 Key Challenges Faced by Nurse Educators Today

Gayle Morris

Contributing Writer

Learn about our editorial process .

Updated January 11, 2023

Reviewed by

Shrilekha Deshaies MSN

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7 Key Challenges Faced by Nurse Educators Today

America is in the middle of a severe and long-standing nursing shortage. It is threatening the supply of registered nurses. The shortage has also affected the number of clinical preceptors and nursing faculty who prepare nursing students.

Nursing school enrollment cannot grow fast enough to meet the projected need. The shortage of nursing school faculty members has also limited enrollment numbers.

Nurse educators often are active clinicians, which is important to maintain quality nurse teaching . However, this also places a strain on educators with higher workloads, forcing them to work short-staffed in practice and education.

These stressors have led to a crisis in the profession. More nurses and nurse educators are seeking positions outside of nursing and feel less committed to their profession than in the past.

We interviewed several influential nurse educators who shared the challenges they face. We also explore the changes needed to improve the system and how nurses can advocate for those changes.

Nurse Educators Face Challenges Due to Nursing Shortage

The nursing shortage is expected to worsen as the baby boomer generation ages and more nurses retire. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), faculty staff shortages limit student capacity at a time when growth is necessary.

There is a critical need to increase the number of nurse educators to meet the demand, but nurse educators are also under a lot of stress. To retain experienced educators and preceptors, it's important to support their efforts.

Many challenges affect educators today. Nurse educators identified the following challenges that affect their ability to nurture and educate the future generation of nurses.

1. Lack of Resources

Nurse educators are well aware of a faculty shortage in programs around the country.

Erica Jastrow has been a nurse educator for over 17 years and sees firsthand the lack of human resources in nursing facilities.

"In some schools," she says, "faculty members manage all aspects for the nursing program from admissions, to advising, to instruction."

This lack of human resources places additional stress on stretched-thin faculty members with limited time and resources. In addition to the faculty who have reached retirement age, other nurse educators are leaving the profession, furthering the issue.

Anne Dabrow Woods has witnessed and experienced the challenges facing faculty. She teaches in the graduate program at Drexel University and says it is imperative we address the issues faced by educators today.

Woods says we must:

2. Curriculum Challenges

Sherri Wilson, DNP, is the director of health career programs at Stride, a provider of tech-enabled education programs. She identifies several curriculum challenges that impact new nursing students and teaching faculty.

Students must overcome several barriers just to enroll in nursing programs. Once accepted, they face additional challenges to succeed in the program. Some students don't have the tools they need, and others may not understand what the career involves.

Wilson suggests starting early by offering ways high school students can prepare for a nursing career . Students may learn more through classwork, clubs, mentorship, or dual enrollment.

"The sooner we can introduce students to the prerequisites, requirements, and opportunities in nursing and nurse education, the better," she says.

Nurse educators also face curriculum challenges. Most programs are seeking faculty with doctorates. According to the Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions in 2019 reported by the AACN, 89.7% of faculty openings required or preferred a doctoral degree.

Wilson notes that doctorates are either research focused or clinical focused. Yet most programs do not include substantial academic coursework to prepare graduates for a teaching or faculty role, she says. It is necessary to reevaluate the curriculum used to teach future teachers.

3. Representation in Faculty and Training

Wilson also seeks representation of different cultural backgrounds in faculty and preceptors. A recent AACN study found that 93% of full-time faculty were female, and only 17% were from underrepresented groups.

"A more diverse nursing faculty can help to broaden the perspectives of nursing students and can provide sources of mentorship for minority nurses," Wilson says.

The recent Future of Nursing Report 2020-2030 explored how the profession could develop different curricula. The goal would prepare nurses to reduce health disparities and inequities, like how nurses can address disparities in infant mortalit y, by using cost-effective strategies. These include technology and maintaining patient- and family-focus care.

To address these issues, there needs to be better representation in nursing and cultural competence in nursing . With a diverse workforce, nurses can serve communities better by understanding and identifying the social determinants of health.

"Finding ways to connect more nursing students to learning opportunities in the communities they serve will empower them to work with people of different backgrounds and from various life experiences," Wilson says.

4. Fostering and Maintaining Student Relationships

Student-teacher relationships are important from elementary school through graduate school. They lead to:

Yet, stressed and overworked faculty often have little time to build constructive and authentic relationships with their students.

The lack of student-teacher relationships may have an unfortunate trickle-down effect on some students' future career development. It could discourage students from furthering their education and choosing a career as a nurse educator.

Strong student-teacher relationships can help bridge the gap and support students' efforts. Some students are working in healthcare while completing their education. Mandated hours or extra shifts are obstacles to completing assignments, maintaining grades, and attending class.

"Showing a student that you care about them and are there to support them may make the difference between a student who drops out or fails in the program and one that is successful," Jastrow says.

5. Pay Inequality

Pay inequality in nurse educator roles is a significant obstacle to attracting new faculty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , the median salary for a nurse educator is $75,470.

Nurses with comparable education levels make far more than nurse educators, with nurse practitioners making $114,510 annually , on average. This pay deficit causes master's- and doctoral-level nurses to not pursue nurse teaching.

It is crucial that the compensation for nurse educators match their experience and education. This will help to attract quality faculty to nursing programs.

H. Eva Hvingelby is a faculty member at Walden University and clinical advisor at Optum. She sees the challenges with pay inequality and the need for immediate change.

She says that higher educator pay and smaller teacher-to-student ratios will make training new nurses more attractive to clinicians. But these adjustments will not come easily.

"While it is difficult to implement these changes when there is already an acute shortage," she says, "not doing so risks further loss of capable personnel, worsened patient outcomes, and higher healthcare costs."

6. Lack of Preceptors

Nurse educators and nursing students are impacted by the lack of preceptors available to nursing students. The nursing shortage has meant that many nursing units work short-staffed with higher than normal staff-to-patient ratios.

Nursing preceptors are a guiding hand and a steady voice for nursing students. When there is not enough available or low staffing, it can impact the quality of a nursing student's education or new nursing graduate.

Tony Anno is a core faculty member at Walden University. He says online and traditional classroom learning face challenges from the restrictions and lack of access to clinical sites and preceptors.

However, nursing programs have a role in addressing the shortage in innovative ways.

For instance, Anno notes that Walden University has identified areas where students could complete some or all of their clinical hours using telehealth nursing services .

7. Lack of Opportunity to Update Knowledge and Skills

The nursing shortage in academia and clinically has stretched nurse educators' resources thin. Nurse educators do not have the time to update their knowledge and skills.

This lack of opportunity was the most frequently described frustration for clinical nurse educators in one study. Additionally, this can contribute to the rising levels of nursing burnout as it contributes to nurse educators' acute and chronic stress levels.

One study confirmed what most nurse educators know: Nurses value professional development and believe it is integral to improving patient care standards.

Access to continuing education for nurses to update knowledge and skill levels helps maintain high standards of care. This is essential when educating and training the next generation of nurses.

"Universities, as well as hospital systems and other healthcare providers, should look for ways to continually upskill their existing workforce and faculty on the latest practices and technologies," Wilson says.

Wilson stresses the need for continued education and skill development in the face of rapidly changing technology. Nurse educators are expected to possess these skills to advance quality and address emerging needs.

What Needs to Change and How Nurses Can Get Involved

Despite challenges during the pandemic, turning away thousands of qualified candidates, and a shortage of nurse educators, enrollment in nursing programs across the country was up by 5.6% in 956 programs surveyed. However, significant changes must be made to raise enrollment and fill open nursing positions.

The pandemic has highlighted long-standing issues in healthcare that have contributed to the nursing shortage. Wilson says nurses are currently "uniquely positioned to become involved in the policy process to advocate for resources to address this complex issue."

Woods believes the answer lies in innovation, perseverance, and resilience.

"Given this landscape, investing in learning technologies is no longer a 'nice to have' for nursing education but truly essential," she says.

With the increased adoption of educational technology, we will also see a shift in funding to address previous hurdles that nurse educators faced in accessing these technologies, Wilson says.

What Needs to Change to Increase the Nurse Educator Retention Rates

Nurse educators can advocate for change and promote ways for nurses to effect change in their profession. They can provide information and perspective from professionals working in the field through taking advantage of professional nursing associations and advocacy groups.

Often involvement does not require hours of time and energy but rather phone calls and emails to state legislators to support or defend policy change.

Nurse educators may also consider working with the administration in their program to use creative strategies to meet the needs of the students and faculty.

It can be challenging to push for change. Yet, many colleges and universities are now recognizing the need for innovation to reduce the nursing shortage and attract qualified nurses as teachers and faculty.

Meet Our Contributors

Portrait of Sherri Wilson, DNP

Sherri Wilson, DNP

Sherri Wilson oversees the development and implementation of curriculum and partnerships in the healthcare field as director of health career programs at Stride, Inc. – a provider of tech-enabled education programs. Prior to joining Stride, Wilson served as a public health administrator with Fairfax County.

Wilson earned her doctor of nursing practice from Johns Hopkins University, a master's in public administration from Seton Hall University, and a bachelor of science in nursing from Hampton University. In 2021, Wilson was named president-elect of the Virginia Nurses Association.

Portrait of Erica L. Jastrow, Ed.D., MSN, RN, CNE

Erica L. Jastrow, Ed.D., MSN, RN, CNE

Erica Jastrow has been a registered nurse for over 20 years and a nurse educator in higher education for over 17. She has led several prelicensure nursing programs and currently serves as an assistant professor and RN-to-BSN program director at William Peace University . She has a BSN from Lenoir Rhyne University, an MSN in nursing education from UNC-Greensboro, and a doctorate in education from Grand Canyon University.



Tony Anno is a core faculty member in Walden University's master of science in nursing program. Anno currently practices in cardiology/electrophysiology at the Kansas City VA Medical Center and volunteers as the sole provider for Health Partnership Clinic. The clinic provides healthcare to patients regardless of income or insurance status.

Anno is certified by the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners as a certified cardiac device specialist and certified electrophysiology specialist. He is also a registered cardiac diagnostic sonographer.

Portrait of H. Eva Hvingelby, Ph.D., ACNP

H. Eva Hvingelby, Ph.D., ACNP

H. Eva Hvingelby is a faculty member in Walden University's master of science in nursing program and a clinical advisor for Optum. She has 21 years of experience as a healthcare clinician. In addition, she spent seven years with the federal government researching and supporting outreach to marginalized populations. Hvingelby consults on strategies to improve clinical communication and collaboration across disciplines.

Portrait of Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN


Anne Dabrow Woods is the chief nurse at Wolters Kluwer, Health, Learning, Research and Practice . She drives the strategic development of evidence-based solutions for nurses and nursing institutions. A nurse for over 37 years and a nurse practitioner since 1998, Dabrow Woods currently practices as an acute care/critical care nurse practitioner at Penn Medicine, Chester County Hospital. She also teaches in the graduate nursing program at Drexel University as clinical adjunct faculty.

Dabrow Woods earned a bachelor's from West Chester University, a master's from LaSalle University, a postmaster's certificate from Drexel University, and a doctor of nursing practice from Texas Christian University. She is also a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Page last reviewed December 16, 2021

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5 issues nurses face in their career.

“America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system,” Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, said in a 2010 address to the American Nurses Association (ANA). “You’re on the front lines of health care in small clinics and in large hospitals, in rural towns and big cities, all across America.” 1

As nurses dedicate their lives to caring for others, their own professional and personal needs may fall by the wayside. That’s why organizations like the ANA and dozens of others support and advocate for the more than 4 million U.S. nurses. 2 Read on to learn about some of the challenges nurses may face today.  

5 Issues Nurses Face in Their Career

Inadequate Staffing

Being short-staffed for brief periods of time is common in most professions, and in many of those situations, it is a minor inconvenience. But in nursing, inadequate staffing can be a matter of life and death.

“Staff shortages brought about by cost-cutting decisions, an aging population, increased patient complexity and need, and an aging workforce place stress on working conditions for nurses and affects patient care and overall outcomes,” the ANA says. “An increasing body of evidence shows appropriate nurse staffing contributes to improved patient outcomes and greater satisfaction for both patients and staff.” 3

In a report published with the consulting firm Avalere, the ANA recommends “that staffing levels in a value-based healthcare system should not be fixed, as day-to-day hospital requirements are constantly in flux.” 4

The emotional and physical demands of caring for others place another burden on nurses. In an ANA survey of 10,688 nurses, 82% indicated they were at a significant level of risk for workplace stress. 5

To help nurses combat stress, the ANA launched the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ challenge with the goal of engaging nurses, employers, and organizations around improving health in six areas: mental health, physical activity, nutrition, rest, quality of life, and safety.

“Healthy nurses are great role models for their patients, colleagues, families, and neighbors,” the ANA says. 6

Safety on the Job

Many factors must come together to create a safe work environment. ANA initiatives to improve workplace safety include:

Workplace Violence

“Healthcare and social service workers face an increased risk of work-related assaults resulting primarily from violent behavior of their patients, clients, and/or residents,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) writes in Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers . “While no specific diagnosis or type of patient predicts future violence, epidemiological studies consistently demonstrate that inpatient and acute psychiatric services, geriatric long-term care settings, high-volume urban emergency departments, and residential and day social services present the highest risks.” 9

OSHA, the ANA, and many other organizations are focused on preventing violent incidences through regulations, guidelines, and education. “No staff nurse should have to deal with violence in the workplace, whether from staff, patients, or visitors,” the ANA says. 7

Improving Self-Care

This is an issue inextricably linked with the nursing profession.

“‘Care for yourself so you can care for others’ … an age-old adage that is easily forgotten in our jam-packed personal and professional lives. As caregivers, nurses have been socialized to care for others and thus often prioritize their needs as second,” writes Margo Halm, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, in an article published in the American Journal of Critical Care. “Self-care remains vital for nurses to ease the detrimental effects of stress in the constantly and rapidly changing healthcare environment and to prevent progression of those effects to burnout, which can have devastating consequences for nurses and those under their care.” 10

A full day of pampering may be unrealistic on a routine basis, but the good news is that self-care can be nourishing and lasting when enjoyed in small bites. Go for a walk or a run, visit with friends, work in the garden, read a book by a favorite or new author, binge a few episodes of a TV show, meditate, or practice a little retail therapy. Grab on to what helps you unwind and make it a regular part of your routine.

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Ethical Issues in Nursing: Explanations & Solutions

June 5, 2020

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Master of Science in Nursing

Nurse holding patient hand

Ethical issues happen when choices need to be made, the answers may not be clear and the options are not ideal. The result could be declines in the quality of patient care; problematic clinical relationships; and moral distress, which is defined as knowing the right thing to do but not being allowed or able to do it. Nurse managers, in particular, are susceptible to ethical issues in nursing and moral distress because of their leadership and mentoring roles. Nurses and other medical staff look to nurse managers for appropriate and ethical decisions.

Before stepping into a role as a nurse manager, registered nurses (RNs) should understand the role ethical decision-making plays in the day-to-day work. Through Duquesne University’s Master of Science in Nursing program, students explore the foundations of ethical management and leadership from professors with real-world experience. The coursework not only covers the fundamentals of ethical nursing but delves deep into controversial case studies, giving students the chance to examine alternative viewpoints and develop reasoning skills.

For nurse managers, ethical decision-making stems from the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics, which was developed as a guideline for nursing responsibilities “in a manner consistent with quality in nursing care and the ethical obligations of the profession.” Nurse managers help solve ethical issues in nursing through using their leadership qualities to implement the Code of Ethics in their daily lives.

Nurses’ Code of Ethics

ANA adopted its first Code of Ethics in 1950. Since then, it has undergone several revisions to offset advances and changes in research, technology, law and overall challenges in nursing. The guidelines are divided into nine provisions that cover topics that include human dignity, confidentiality, moral virtue and healthcare as a right. ANA said that each of the provisions covers topics important to the challenges of nursing in the 21st century.

“The code is particularly useful in today’s healthcare environment because it reiterates the fundamental values and commitments of the nurse, identifies the boundaries of duty and loyalty and describes the duties of the nurse that extend beyond individual patient encounters,” ANA said in a statement.

Daily, nurse managers face a barrage of decisions and must maintain ethical fortitude to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their patients and staff. They actively work toward resolving ethical issues in nursing that they find in their workplace.

Examples of Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing

The ANA Code of Ethics provides a standard by which nurse managers can assess ethical issues in nursing. However, the way it addresses ethical dilemmas can vary in different situations. One ethical dilemma that can occur in healthcare facilities is when nurses themselves are not properly equipped to complete their duties. Nurses who notice their coworker’s lack of knowledge face an ethical dilemma of whether they should bring the issue to their nurse manager. To help curb this ethical dilemma, nurse managers can work hard to educate their nurses regarding the Code of Ethics as well as educate them regarding the Code of Ethics for their specific medical facility. Nurse managers can also provide regular trainings for their nurses regarding recurring issues.

One example of a common ethical dilemma nurses deal with is establishing boundaries with patients. Nurses and nurse managers devote their careers to helping patients receive the care they need, so it can often be difficult to establish professional boundaries. Patients should not rely on nurses beyond their professional capacity and should not develop romantic relationships with them or offer them gifts. Nurse managers can intervene in situations where ethical and professional boundaries are crossed by either patients or nurses.

Another ethical issue in nursing pertains to patient privacy. Nurses and nurse managers have access to a patient’s records and medical history and cannot ethically or legally release that information to anyone besides the patient. Nurses should have the best interest of patients in mind, understanding that they need to protect their privacy and medical data.

Common Ethical Situations for Nurse Managers and Nursing Ethics Examples

Even though nursing is a fast-paced job with new challenges daily, many nurse managers report facing similar ethical dilemmas. A recent study found that the most frequently occurring and stressful ethical situations are protecting patients’ rights, staffing, advanced care planning and decision-making. Exacerbating the problem is the large number of inexperienced nurses entering the field, many who have never faced ethical issues in nursing. Such challenges make experienced nurse managers all the more critical to daily healthcare needs nationwide.

The following are some other examples of common ethical situations that nurse managers face:

How to Deal With Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing

Nurses undergo many years of education and clinical training before they can become certified nurses, and yet, dealing with real ethical issues in nursing can be far more complex than solving hypothetical issues in textbooks. Nurses can learn how to deal with ethical dilemmas in the workplace through gaining experience and interacting with patients over time. Although nurses have great levels of empathy, it can benefit them to establish professional boundaries with each of their patients at the outset of their careers. Whenever nurses struggle to identify whether something is ethical, they can review the ANA Code of Ethics.

Nurses can also benefit by surrounding themselves with well-seasoned nurses as well as experienced nurse managers. They can rely on the guidance of nurse managers when it comes to situations they may not know how to address. Nurse managers can cultivate educational environments, in which they regularly discuss ethical issues with the nurses in their units. By having open dialogues about ethical issues, nurses can learn from the mistakes others have made and learn how to approach ethical issues and challenges.

Help Avoid Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing

The Duquesne University School of Nursing’s MSN program integrates ethical problem-solving and decision-making to help MSN graduates explore and address ethical issues. Students in each of Duquesne University’s MSN tracks — Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management, Forensic Nursing and Nursing Education and Faculty Role — learn how ethics and problem-solving play distinct roles in nursing.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Duquesne University’s online MSN program among the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs in 2017. If you are interested in advancing your career as a nurse manager, explore how Duquesne University’s Master of Science in Nursing program can help you pursue your professional goals and help you avoid ethical issues in nursing.

Recommended Readings

Family Nurse Practitioners and Professional Liability Insurance

Importance of Nurse Manager Resilience

Using Escape Rooms for Nurse Education

American Nurses Association, View the Code of Ethics for Nurses 

Houston Chronicle , “Legal & Ethical Issues That Health Care Professionals Face” 

Lippincott Solutions, Best Practices for Ethical Nursing Leadership 

Medical Records Info, Top 10 Most Prevalent Ethical Issues in Nursing 

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Ethical Problems in Nursing Management —A Cross-Sectional Survey About Solving Problems” 

NurseChoice, “4 Common Nursing Ethics Dilemmas” 

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The Problem-Solving Process

In order to effectively manage and run a successful organization, leadership must guide their employees and develop problem-solving techniques. Finding a suitable solution for issues can be accomplished by following the basic four-step problem-solving process and methodology outlined below.

1. Define the problem

Diagnose the situation so that your focus is on the problem, not just its symptoms. Helpful problem-solving techniques include using flowcharts to identify the expected steps of a process and cause-and-effect diagrams to define and analyze root causes .

The sections below help explain key problem-solving steps. These steps support the involvement of interested parties, the use of factual information, comparison of expectations to reality, and a focus on root causes of a problem. You should begin by:

2. Generate alternative solutions

Postpone the selection of one solution until several problem-solving alternatives have been proposed. Considering multiple alternatives can significantly enhance the value of your ideal solution. Once you have decided on the "what should be" model, this target standard becomes the basis for developing a road map for investigating alternatives. Brainstorming and team problem-solving techniques are both useful tools in this stage of problem solving.

Many alternative solutions to the problem should be generated before final evaluation. A common mistake in problem solving is that alternatives are evaluated as they are proposed, so the first acceptable solution is chosen, even if it’s not the best fit. If we focus on trying to get the results we want, we miss the potential for learning something new that will allow for real improvement in the problem-solving process.

3. Evaluate and select an alternative

Skilled problem solvers use a series of considerations when selecting the best alternative. They consider the extent to which:

4. Implement and follow up on the solution

Leaders may be called upon to direct others to implement the solution, "sell" the solution, or facilitate the implementation with the help of others. Involving others in the implementation is an effective way to gain buy-in and support and minimize resistance to subsequent changes.

Regardless of how the solution is rolled out, feedback channels should be built into the implementation. This allows for continuous monitoring and testing of actual events against expectations. Problem solving, and the techniques used to gain clarity, are most effective if the solution remains in place and is updated to respond to future changes.

You can also search articles , case studies , and publications  for problem solving resources.

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The Quality Toolbox

Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action

One Good Idea: Some Sage Advice ( Quality Progress ) The person with the problem just wants it to go away quickly, and the problem-solvers also want to resolve it in as little time as possible because they have other responsibilities. Whatever the urgency, effective problem-solvers have the self-discipline to develop a complete description of the problem.

Diagnostic Quality Problem Solving: A Conceptual Framework And Six Strategies  ( Quality Management Journal ) This paper contributes a conceptual framework for the generic process of diagnosis in quality problem solving by identifying its activities and how they are related.

Weathering The Storm ( Quality Progress ) Even in the most contentious circumstances, this approach describes how to sustain customer-supplier relationships during high-stakes problem solving situations to actually enhance customer-supplier relationships.

The Right Questions ( Quality Progress ) All problem solving begins with a problem description. Make the most of problem solving by asking effective questions.

Solving the Problem ( Quality Progress ) Brush up on your problem-solving skills and address the primary issues with these seven methods.

Refreshing Louisville Metro’s Problem-Solving System  ( Journal for Quality and Participation ) Organization-wide transformation can be tricky, especially when it comes to sustaining any progress made over time. In Louisville Metro, a government organization based in Kentucky, many strategies were used to enact and sustain meaningful transformation.


Quality Improvement Associate Certification--CQIA

Certified Quality Improvement Associate Question Bank

Lean Problem-Solving Tools

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NEW   Root Cause Analysis E-Learning

Quality 101

Making the Connection In this exclusive QP webcast, Jack ReVelle, ASQ Fellow and author, shares how quality tools can be combined to create a powerful problem-solving force.

Adapted from The Executive Guide to Improvement and Change , ASQ Quality Press.

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nursing problem and solution

Solutions for the Nursing Shortage

As everyone is aware, the aging population is increasing in the U.S. and more and more people have started to gain access to their healthcare coverage. These situations in the country have increased the demand for nurses and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than one million nurse shortage by the year 2022.

Nurses are critically important healthcare professionals, who are required to provide care whenever the patients are in vulnerable situations. At the same time, nursing can be an emotionally draining career and the hours of duty are often longer and irregular.

Today, the demand for nurses is at its greatest and finding solutions for the problem is becoming highly important. Here are some possible solutions that every hospital can employ, and hopefully, that every nurse can put into practice in the coming years.

Possible Short-Term Solutions:

The debate on nursing shortage has been a hot topic for some years now. It’s to be accepted that everyone is experiencing the struggle at some level and there is no indication that the problem will be resolved soon. While this is the case, it’s important for healthcare facilities to find out some short-term solutions to swim the ocean. When an experienced staff member retires or leaves due to stress and burnout, it is important for that healthcare facility to retain the high-quality patient care, when at the same time being able to meet the high demand of the aging population. Thus, healthcare facilities can fill the short-term gaps by considering the following solutions:

Reviewing and Revising Internal Policies:

As all are aware, the country is already facing a huge nursing shortage. Very soon, the country will need a lot more nurses. While this is the case, burnout is found to be common among nurses as many appear to feel overstressed and underappreciated. These factors are resulting in despondency in the nursing positions, which can be expensive at the sides of healthcare facilities. On an average, replacing a nurse costs around $65,000 on top of the salary of the previous nurse. And, for every 1% increase in annual nursing turnover, a healthcare facility would tend to lose as much as $300,000.

Thus, the nursing shortage is not only affecting the quality of patient care, but it is also putting a weight on the healthcare facilities. To help prevent this, the healthcare facilities are recommended to review and revise their internal policies for productivity and advised to better utilize the leading-edge technology in this regard. Although this solution will not work for all the organizations, some hospitals are using robots to carry out some duties of the nurses to ease out their workload.

Improving Diversity in Nursing Workforce:

The population in the U.S. is growing more and more diverse every year. One can notice the growing diversity in terms of age, culture, and several other factors. So, it’s high time for the healthcare organizations to understand the importance of improving diversity in the nursing workforce as well. By improving diversity in the nursing workforce, the patient satisfaction can be maintained. One way to do this is to complement the existing talent force with clinically, as well as culturally trained international nurses. This way, the organizations will have access to seasoned nurses with ample experience.

How are top organizations dealing with the challenges?

Financial Incentives:

As a short-term solution, the hospitals are asking nurses to work more hours with monetary benefits. In this line, those nurses who pick up additional shifts would be paid financial incentives by the organization. However, as mentioned earlier, when nurses are overstressed, they will face burnout, which might affect the quality of healthcare being provided. Therefore, this solution will only be a very short-term one.

Travel Nurses:

Some healthcare organizations are found to be relying on travel nurses, who are temporary workers. They would work for almost thirteen weeks at a time. However, it’s to be remembered that these nurses will be tagged at high prices. Again, this can also be applied as a short-term solution.

Nursing Workforce Development Programs:

There are several nursing workforce development programs under the Public Health Service Act. These programs are known to offer grants for nursing courses, academic sites, and students with a view of attracting, educating, and supporting the nursing students. These programs would also include the loan forgiveness schemes. By boosting the funding for these programs, the nursing workforce needs could be partially met.

Long-Term Solutions are critical:

To obtain sustainability in meeting the nursing shortage, the short-term solutions are not enough. The healthcare organizations should consider the long-term solutions by working with the local, as well as regional educational institutions, to make sure that sufficient training is given to future nurses. As such, steps should be taken to encourage the millennial generation to enter into nursing and to practice it. In this line, the following ideas can be implemented:

Finally, more experienced nurses are needed to nurture the younger generation. They should come forward to mentor and teach the millennial generation on being a caregiver.

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All I hear about is the country’s nursing shortage. I have been applying to many positions for over a month (I had to take a one year leave for my health). Every position that piques my interest requires anywhere from 2 to 5 years of experience. Even med/surg positions. I really want to be an infusion nurse, but I have no infusion experience, no hospital experience, practically no experience at all. The reason being is the high standards that every institution placed on applicants. I became a RN in 2011. I got my BSN in 2016. I’ve had 4 jobs, and they have all been pretty bad. It’s a catch-22 for nurses with little experience. Where do I get 2-5 years of experience when no one will hire me to gain experience? I’ve been very depressed and anxious over this. I fear I’ll never get a job, let alone a job that I want and like.

Mary I’m praying for you I’m looking for a job too I’m just a recent graduate and I’m looking for work I know you’ll find work I’m only an LPN I have a job but I’m never on the schedule

Why not utilize the experienced LPNs in hospitals. I’m an LPN with 20 years experience a lot of it in the hospital when they let us work in hospitals. Now they’re telling me I can’t work in the hospital unless I’m an RN. My knowledge hasn’t changed I’m just as smart as I was before I know the same things that the RN knows I’ve been doing this for 20 years.

Praise the Lord for you Stephanie and all of us LPNs

Please check out Prisma Health Oconee Memorial Hospital,located in Seneca,SC. We are hiring LPNs for our MedSurg and Surgical Specialty units, as well as in our Joint Center unit.

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Strategies for Problem Solving

Nursing students will be expected to have or develop strong problem-solving skills. Problem solving is centered on your ability to identify critical issues and create or identify solutions. Well-developed problem solving skills is a characteristic of a successful student. Remember, problems are a part of everyday life and your ability to resolve problems will have a positive influence on your future.

6 Steps of Problem Solving

Step 1: Identify and Define the Problem

It is not difficult to overlook the true problem in a situation and focus your attention on issues that are not relevant. This is why it is important that you look at the problem from different perspectives. This provides a broad view of the situation that allows you to weed out factors that are not important and identify the root cause of the problem.

Step 2: Analyze the Problem

Break down the problem to get an understanding of the problem. Determine how the problem developed. Determine the impact of the problem.

Step 3: Develop Solutions

Brainstorm and list all possible solutions that focus on resolving the identified problem. Do not eliminate any possible solutions at this stage.

Step 4: Analyze and Select the Best Solution

List the advantages and disadvantages of each solution before deciding on a course of action. Review the advantages and disadvantages of each possible solution. Determine how the solution will resolve the problem. What are the short-term and long-term disadvantages of each solution? What are the possible short-term and long-term benefits of each solution? Which solution will help you meet your goals?

Step 5: Implement the Solution

Create a plan of action. Decide how you will move forward with your decision by determining the steps you must take to ensure that you move forward with your solution. Now, execute your plan of action.

Step 6: Evaluate the Solution

Monitor your decision. Assess the results of your solution. Are you satisfied with the results? Did your solution resolve the problem? Did it produce a new problem? Do you have to modify your solution to achieve better results? Are you closer to achieving your goal? What have you learned?


Home » Northern Arizona University » What Is Clinical Problem Solving In Nursing?

What Is Clinical Problem Solving In Nursing?

Table of Contents

Problem-solving skill means acquiring knowledge to reach a solution , and a person’s ability to use this knowledge to find a solution requires critical thinking. The promotion of these skills is considered a necessary condition for nurses’ performance in the nursing profession [5, 6].

What is a clinical problem in nursing?

Clinical nursing problems selected for inquiry are generally those encountered in nursing practice and those that deal with modalities of patient care such as support, comfort, prevention of trauma, promotion of recovery, health screening, appraisal and/or assessment, health education, and coordination of health care.

Why is clinical problem-solving important?

Medical problem-solving skills are essential to learning how to develop an effective differential diagnosis in an efficient manner, as well as how to engage in the reflective practice of medicine .

What are the 5 steps of problem-solving in nursing process?

The nursing process functions as a systematic guide to client-centered care with 5 sequential steps. These are assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation .

Why problem-solving is important in nursing?

Though nurses rely on clinical expertise and experience in a variety of situations, those with problem-solving skills are better equipped to serve their patients . By thinking creatively, asking the right questions and considering multiple options, nurses will be able to solve problems much more effectively.

What clinical problem means?

Clinical problems relate to the day-to-day work that one does . For instance, a teacher who has several students with reading difficulties without a clear plan to assist them is a clinical problem.

What are examples of clinical issues?

These issues include absences, engaging reluctant adolescents in group activities, difficult or defiant adolescents, breaches to confidentiality, challenging family situations, sensitive topics, and crises, including disclosures of suicidal thoughts and suspected abuse.

What is medical problem solving?

Medical Problem Solving is a three-week, half-day summer program for high school students entering grades 11-12 . The program provides interactive, hands-on-learning for high school students interested in health professions, using many of the same curricular methods used by medical students.

How do you show problem solving skills?

Here are steps you can follow to improve your problem-solving skills:

What is clinical problem solving in speech pathology?

Abstract. Background: Clinical problem-solving is fundamental to the role of the speech-language pathologist in both the diagnostic and treatment processes. The problem-solving often involves collaboration with clients and their families, supervisors, and other professionals .

What are the 6 steps in problem-solving?

Six step guide to help you solve problems

What are the 4 types of nursing diagnosis?

There are 4 types of nursing diagnoses: risk-focused, problem-focused, health promotion-focused, or syndrome-focused .

How do you problem solve under pressure in nursing?

Below are 5 tips for nurse stress management that may be right for you.

What is an example of a nursing practice problem?

The nursing shortage; job dissatisfaction; burnout; and turnover were the identified nursing practice problems. Causes and solutions of these problems were explored. Content may be subject to copyright. satisfaction; burnout; and turnover were the identified nursing practice problems.

How do you write a clinical problem statement?

How to write a problem statement

What does clinical mean in medical terms?

Definition of clinical 1 : of, relating to, or conducted in or as if in a clinic : such as. a : involving direct observation of the patient clinical diagnosis. b : based on or characterized by observable and diagnosable symptoms clinical treatment clinical tuberculosis.

What are some problems nurses face?

Here are some of the challenges nurses face in their profession:

What are the biggest problems facing nursing today?

Top 5 Challenges Faced by Nurses Today

What is a patient problem list?

A problem list is a document that states the most important health problems facing a patient such as nontransitive illnesses or diseases, injuries suffered by the patient, and anything else that has affected the patient or is currently ongoing with the patient.

What is a clinical reason?

Clinical Reasoning is the process by which a therapist interacts with a patient, collecting information, generating and testing hypotheses, and determining optimal diagnosis and treatment based on the information obtained .

What is diagnostic reasoning?

Diagnostic reasoning is a dynamic thinking process that leads to the identification of a hypothesis that best explains the clinical evidence . Nurses in advanced practice today frequently diagnose the origin of medical and nursing problems that develop in acutely and critically ill adults.

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  12. Solutions for the Nursing Shortage

    Today, the demand for nurses is at its greatest and finding solutions for the problem is becoming highly important. Here are some possible solutions that every hospital can employ, and hopefully, that every nurse can put into practice in the coming years. Possible Short-Term Solutions:

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  16. Strategies for Problem Solving

    6 Steps of Problem Solving Step 1: Identify and Define the Problem It is not difficult to overlook the true problem in a situation and focus your attention on issues that are not relevant. This is why it is important that you look at the problem from different perspectives.

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