Nurse managers working in nursing homes are challenged to develop strategies that maintain a balance among quality of care, nurse staffing levels, and workload within the context of federal and state nurse staffing requirements for nursing homes. One strategy to consider is the use of the Resource Utilization Groups (RUG-III) staffing benchmarks that are associated with each of the 44 resident classification groupings that comprise the RUG-III system. The RUG-III system is described. Three examples of the use of RUG-III as a staffing tool by nurses working in Veterans Health Administration nursing homes are described. The lessons learned about the advantages and limitations in using RUG-III as a staffing tool are summarized. These lessons are applicable to RUG-53, the January 2006 refinement of RUG-III.