‘You just can’t do it all’: a secondary analysis of nurses' perceptions of teamwork, staffing and workload

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The purpose of this study was to re-examine data to explore connections between nurses’ perceptions of teamwork, staffing and workload, focusing on salient aspects and connections, from the nurses’ perspective. Insufficient staffing levels and imbalanced workload distributions are prominent challenges in contemporary healthcare which can cause increased incident reports, medical errors and lower patient satisfaction. Using a novel form of secondary analysis – an original qualitative analysis followed by a quantification of the qualitative data, we found themes of teamwork, staffing and workload were interrelated in the data. When facing workload challenges created by understaffing, participants directly attributed their units’ ability to meet the needs of patient care to levels of teamwork on the unit. We suggest that teamwork in healthcare needs targeted organisational support. In other words, healthcare organisations must systematically approach and monitor the status of nursing teamwork, e.g. implement programmes to develop it as needed, particularly when faced with staffing and workload challenges. Healthcare leaders can learn from and the healthcare delivery workplace can be shaped by listening to teamwork perceptions of nurses.

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