The problem of the nurse-to-patient ratio (NPR) has been growing out of proportions over the past few years. Because of the increasing demands for quality and the lack of opportunities provided to nurses, including the chances to grow professionally, build a career, benefit financially, etc., nursing facilities have been experiencing a shortage of nurses (Aiken et al., 2016). As a result, the number of nurses has been reducing, whereas the number of inpatients has been experiencing a rapid growth thus, leading to a problem (Griffiths et al., 2014). The lack of competent nurses triggers the need to create a tighter schedule, therefore, putting a significant strain on nurses and building premises for the development of health issues, including depression, workplace burnouts, etc. (Aiken et al., 2016). Furthermore, the quality of the provided services has been dropping as a result of the specified phenomenon. The introduction of an improved policy for managing nurses’ needs, including the one for sensible workload and the one for acquiring new competencies, must be combined with the focus on continuous improvement, which can be launched with the help of the Six Sigma model, particularly, the DMAIC tool.
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The incorporation of the Six Sigma principles into the environment of the nursing facility will allow studying the nature of the problem, exploring the available solutions, and introducing organizational change into the target environment by combining efficient leadership with a well-designed framework for organizational processes coordination (Stanton et al., 2014). Particularly, the adoption of the DMAIC framework will require that the situation should be defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled successfully (Stanton et al., 2014). Seeing that the issue has already been identified, the approach in question will help select an appropriate measurement tool (e.g., a quantitative analysis of the PNR changes over the past few days compared to the changes in the patient results and the overall quality of the service delivery).
The analysis that must follow the measurement stage will require comparing the pretest results to the post-test ones so that the efficacy of using a different leadership strategy and a redesign of the nurses’ schedule could be determined. The outcomes of the evaluation will inform the further choice of strategies for enhancing the quality of the nursing services. Furthermore, efficient control tools, such as regular reports and occasional audits, will have to be viewed as the means of keeping the situation under control. Thus, the instances of mismanagement of certain processes, be it the case of poor service delivery or a misconception occurring due to a poor information management process, will be revealed and addressed immediately. It is expected that the DMAIC framework as a part of the Six Sigma philosophy will lead to a massive rise in the quality of the services and the following improvement in patient outcomes.
However, to make sure that the suggested framework could be successfully integrated into the context of the nursing services in question, one must design an elaborate assessment tool that will provide a deep insight into the effects of the DMAIC strategy as the basis for introducing the nursing staff to the context of continuous improvement and providing them with the amount of tasks that they can handle. The first and most important the issues associated with the workplace burnout rates among nurses will have to be checked. For this purpose, the surveys measuring the nurses’ satisfaction rates needs to be deployed. The identified instrument will help shed light on the effects that the new workload will have on nurses. Moreover, apart from addressing the needs of the personnel, one will also have to evaluate the quality of patient outcomes, thus, defining the efficacy of the nurse’ work. The specified task can be accomplished by carrying out a statistical analysis of the current and past patient recovery rates. The application of a t-test as the means of measuring the effects that the suggested strategy will have on the current PNR will have to be considered.
Because of the threats to which both nurses and patients are exposed with the drop in the NPR, there is a need to incorporate the principles of the Six Sigma framework to make sure that the suggested alterations to HR policies should remain part and parcel of the contemporary nursing environment. The application of the identified frameworks will serve as the tool for introducing the principles of meeting the needs of all stakeholders into the environment of the nursing facility and at the same time create the foundation for a faster acquisition of the relevant skills and knowledge by the staff members. As a result, the course for a continuous improvement will be set successfully. Furthermore, the proposed framework may contribute to a massive improvement in patient outcomes since nurses will have more opportunities for engaging in the active communication with the target population and, thus, adders their culture-specific needs in a more efficient and careful manner. In other words, it is expected that the introduction of the Six Sigma tool into the setting of the target nursing facility will set the course for continuous improvements as the corporate philosophy and will allow meeting the needs of all stakeholders involved (Pyzdek & Keller, 2014).
Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D., Griffiths, P., Rafferty, A. M., Bruyneel, L., McHugh, M.,… & Sermeus, W. (2017). Nursing skill mix in European hospitals: Cross-sectional study of the association with mortality, patient ratings, and quality of care. BMJ Quality & Safety, 26(7), 559-568.
Griffiths, P., Dall’Ora, C., Simon, M., Ball, J., Lindqvist, R., Rafferty, A. M., … Aiken, L. H. (2014). Nurses’ shift length and overtime working in 12 European countries: The association with perceived quality of care and patient safety. Medical Care, 52(11), 975.
Pyzdek, T., & Keller, P. (2014). The Six Sigma handbook (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Stanton, P., Gough, R., Ballardie, R., Bartram, T., Bamber, G. J., & Sohal, A. (2014). Implementing lean management/Six Sigma in hospitals: Beyond empowerment or work intensification? The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(21), 2926-2940.