Nursing Workload & Workforce

As a nurse educator it may be required to delve into the management world, here are some resources when having to look at nursing human resources when planning a project. Please post other measures, methods or tools in the comment section below.

Nursing Workload

There are many, many, many methods (>70) to calculate nursing workload and most are limited in some aspect. So pick the most ideal one to suit relevent clinical speciality, health system and needs.

Padilha, K. G., Stafseth, S., Solms, D., Hoogendoom, M., Monge, F. J. C., Gomaa, O. H., … & Miranda, D. D. R. (2015). Nursing Activities Score: an updated guideline for its application in the Intensive Care Unit. Revista da Escola de Enfermagem da USP49(spe), 131-137.

Full Time Equivelant (FTE)

“The first step to understanding the staffing budget is to understand the calculation for an FTE—an employee, or a combination of employees, who work full time (80 hours per 14-day pay period or for a total of 2,080 hours per year). You can calculate how much any one person consumes of your budgeted FTE allocation by using the following equation: hours per day the employee works multiplied by days per pay period the employee works divided by 80 hours” (Hunt, 2018).

Consideration of FTE to shifts, caseload and skill mix is also required.

Hunt, P. S. (2018). Developing a staffing plan to meet inpatient unit needsNursing Management49(5), 24-31.


Measurement of work multiplied by the budgeted hours per patient day (HPPD).

“100% productive. The target is determined with the following formula: measurement of work multiplied by the budgeted hours per patient day (HPPD) for a defined period (usually the 14-day pay period)” (Hunt & Hartman, 2018).

Consideration of admissions, discharges and transfers (ADT) is also required.

Hunt, P. S., & Hartman, D. (2018). Meeting the measurements of inpatient staffing productivityNursing Management49(6), 26-33.


” In theory, the strain on a single ICU’s capacity to provide high-quality care at a given point in time should be related to the numbers of practitioners in that ICU (including physicians, physician-extenders, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and others); the efficiency and coordination of these practitioners; the numbers of available ICU beds and other fixed resources (e.g. ventilators, dialysis machines); the number of patients in need of these beds and other resources; and the acuity (i.e. resource intensiveness) of patients already in the ICU”

Alpern, S. D. (2011). ICU capacity strain and the quality and allocation of critical care. Current Opinion in Critical Care. 17(6), 648-657