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Competing needs refer to the different requirements that can influence policymaking. These needs can be conflicting, making it challenging to create policies that address them all. In healthcare, competing needs can involve the workforce, resources, and patients, among others. For instance, the needs of the workforce may require that policies are created to improve their working conditions, pay, and benefits. On the other hand, patients may need policies that ensure quality care, accessibility of healthcare services, and affordability. “Collaboration between neighboring competing health systems that share a select group of complex patients is an effective way to stabilize care, decrease health care system overutilization, improve healthcare delivery, and reduce the costs of associated care.” (Hardin et al., 2018)

In nursing, short staffing is a significant concern that impacts patient care quality and nurse job satisfaction. The competing needs that affect short staffing include patient demand for quality care, nurses’ need for workload balance, and the organization’s need for profitability. “The nursing profession continues to face shortages due to a lack of potential educators, high turnover, and inequitable workforce distribution.” (Haddad et al., 2022). For instance, if the organization is understaffed, the workload can be overwhelming for the available nurses, leading to burnout and stress. Additionally, inadequate staffing can compromise the quality of care provided to patients, resulting in adverse outcomes.

Policies can address competing needs by balancing the interests of all stakeholders. For instance, the policy can require that the organization hires more nurses to address the staffing shortage while also ensuring that nurses have a manageable workload. Additionally, policies can ensure that nurses are adequately compensated, which can lead to job satisfaction and reduced staff turnover. In this way, the competing needs of the workforce, patients, and organization can be addressed simultaneously.

In conclusion, competing needs can affect policymaking in healthcare. Ansell et al. (2019) emphasizes the need for policies to be designed in a way that “connects actors vertically and horizontally in a process of collaboration and joint deliberation.” In nursing, short staffing is a significant concern that impacts patient care quality and nurse job satisfaction. Policies that balance the interests of all stakeholders can address competing needs, such as the need for quality care, workload balance, and profitability.


Ansell, C., Sorensen, E., & Torfing, J. (2019). Improving policy implementation through collaborative policymaking. Policy and Politics, 45, 467-486.

Haddad, L. M., Toney-Butler, T. J., & Annamaraju, P. (2022, February 22). Nursing shortage. National Library of Medicine; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/Links to an external site.

Hardin, L., Kilian, A., & Spykerman, K. (2018). Competing health care systems and complex patients: An inter-professional collaboration to improve outcomes and reduce health care costs. Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice7, 5–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xjep.2017.01.002Links to an external site.

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