Effects of Shortage of Nurses at St. Dominic’s Mission Hospital, Ndola, Zambia

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJNR.2015.03.02.Art010

Authors : Elizabeth Njovu


The shortage of nurses is a problem that is common everywhere in the world. Nurses form the largest number in the healthcare system and play a significant role in providing direct patient care. Considering the importance of the role of nurses in the healthcare system, it is important to investigate how nursing shortage affects the quality of patient care, nurses’ job satisfaction and their work stress. Zambia is not an exception to this scourge, most hospitals face this challenge of nursing shortage. One such Hospital is St. Dominic’s Mission Hospital located in the outskirts of Ndola.

There is a confirmed positive relationship between nurse shortage and workload. There is also a significant positive relationship between workload and the quality of patient care. Furthermore, a negative relationship was observed between workload and the quality of patient care. In addition, this study calculates the mean effect of emotional intelligence of these factors, and a significant correlation is found between emotional intelligence and workload as well as work stress. It can be said that in Zambia, nursing shortage Influences the workload of the employee, finally affecting the quality of patient care. In addition, the study recognized the capability of nurses to manage their emotions as well as emotions of others, which has increased their tolerance to control psychological stress in performing their duty. This study confirms that nurse’s emotional intelligence act as a partial moderating variable for job outcomes of nurses.

Background: The shortage of nursing staff is a great challenge worldwide, it affects many nations in the world. With this shortage, patients are suffering because the healthcare workforce is not prepared to deal with their health needs. In each country, the shortage of nurses is as a result of a number of factors that ultimately cause a decrease in the quality of health care given. However, little is known about the global causes of a shrinking professional nurse workforce.

Main objective: To assess the effects that shortage of nurses has on the care of patients and on the few nurses providing care at St. Dominic’s Mission Hospital, Zambia.

Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess and identify the effects of the shortage of nurses on care of the patient as well as on the few nurses providing care. Data was collected using the self-structured questionnaire with closed and open ended questions. Purposeful sample of 20 nurses participated.

Results: 20 nurses participated: 15 females and 5males; aged between 21 to 50 years. Majority (90%) diploma Holders and are registered nurses. Findings reveal that (100%) are aware of the shortage of nurses at the Hospital, (89%) feel the impact of the shortage of nurses has on them. (70%) indicated that shortage of nurses compromises the quality of patients care, 55% of the participants had knowledge on the nurse-patient ratio for the general medical ward while 45% did not. 20% indicated that poor Human resource planning by administration has caused the shortage, while 75% indicated unrevised staff establishment and 5% indicated that migration of nurses is the reason for nurse shortage at the hospital. 100% expressed that shortage of staff makes them stressed and work long hours.

Conclusion and recommendation: the participants’ are very much aware of the shortage of nurses not only at St. Dominic’s Mission Hospital but in other health care facility as well; they are determined to continue doing the best for the patients despite the shortage. It is therefore recommended that the administration at St. Dominic’s Mission Hospital should urgently lobby for more nursing staff from the Ministry of Health.

Keywords: shortage, effects, nurses, compromised care, quality care, stressful environment, St. Dominic Mission Hospital.


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