Relationship Between Nurse-Patient Ratios and Nurse Burnout
Large nurse-to-patient ratios in healthcare may be a significant factor that contributes to nurse burnout rates. Nurse-to-patient ratios refer to the number of patients a nurse is responsible to care for during his/her shift. Burnout can be described as a physical, mental, and emotional state caused by chronic overwork and a sustained lack of job fulfillment and support ("Nurse Burnout," 2019). Burnout can have effects such as high turnover rates, absenteeism, and reduced quality of patient care. Some evidence suggests that smaller nurse-to-patient ratios result in reduced burnout rates among nurses (Aiken, Clarke, Sloane, Sochalski & Silber, 2002). Currently the only state in the U.S. that has mandated nurse-to-patient ratios by law is California (American Nursing Association, 2015). In other states this ratio is determined differently from facility to facility. For many facilities these ratios can fluctuate based on factors such as available staffing and number of patients. The purpose of this Evidence Based Practice Brief is to compare small nurse-to-patient ratios and large nurse-to-patient ratios in registered nurses and its influence on nurse burnout. With this information nurses can advocate for themselves and facilities can initiate policies on nurse-to-patient ratios. The results of this brief may also provide insight into the benefits of mandated nurse to patient ratios.