A Healthy Work Environment: Essential in Providing Quality Health Care Kimberly Lett
ENGL135: Advanced Composition
Fall term 2010
A Healthy Work Environment: Essential in Providing Quality Health Care The delivery of healthcare has evolved and changed over the years and with the advances in science and technology, the ability to provide safe, quality care to all patients has been impacted by the changes. With the rising healthcare costs and decrease in reimbursement for care provided, organizations must look for ways of cost containment to maintain viability for the future. Fabre (2005) noted that administrators are struggling to maintain financial stability and retain competent nurses during these difficult financial times. Organizations are being evaluated and reimbursed based on their patient care outcomes; as such the nurse’s role is critical in helping to identify potential safety risks to patients and the prevention of medical errors. “As hospitals have responded to financial pressure from Medicare, managed care , and other private payers, registered nurses have become increasingly dissatisfied with the working conditions in hospitals” (Fabre, 2005, p. 20). One of the many challenges in healthcare today, is the need for organizations to recognize and facilitate the improvement of the work environment. The need for competent, qualified nurses in any organization is imperative for providing safe, quality care to the clients. For this reason the critical role that nurses have in providing patient safety should not be underestimated. The Institute of Medicine (2004) reported “ research is now beginning to document what physicians, patients, other healthcare providers, and nurses themselves have long known: how well we are cared for by nurses affects our health, and sometimes can be a matter of life or death” (p. 2). The importance of a healthy work environment has been recognized as a key component in maximizing organizational performance, contributing to a decrease in the nursing shortage within an organization and is vital in providing quality care to the clients they serve. The growing concern for the nursing shortage continues to be a major issue affecting the profession and attention is being given to the stressful nature of the work environment. Several national surveys were completed in 2002 and 2004, identifying reasons for the ongoing nursing shortage, one of the major concerns centered on the work environment (Florida Center of Nursing, 2006). Organizations are looking at ways of restructuring the work environment, enabling staff nurses the opportunity to participate in decisions that impact their ability to practice. McDonald, Tullai-McGuinness, Madigan, and Shively (2010) remarked that workplaces that have a supportive work environment have noted success in recruitment and retention of their work force, citing an increase in job satisfaction and improved patient outcomes. With nurses making up the largest percentage of professionals working in a hospital setting, organizations now recognize the importance of the nurses’ role and measures to improve the workplace are being developed. Lowe (2002) noted “ diagnosing the extent of work environment problems in healthcare is the first step in designing strategies to improve the quality of healthcare workplaces” (p. 49). Hospitals looking to improve on the work environment must first have an understanding of the nurses’ perception of their workplace environment. Kramer and Schmalenberg (2008) noted “the perspective of clinical nurses at the front line as to what constitutes a healthy work environment is essential if interventions to improve practice environments in hospitals are to be implemented” (p. 57). Once an organization is able to identify distinctive characteristics that have an impact on staff and their environment, they are then able to proceed in developing strategies to improve the work culture. All members of the...
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