June 21, 2023

Impact of span of control on nurse managers, hospital outcomes

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study from nurse researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham identifies factors associated with span of control in nursing management, which encompasses the complexities of the nurse manager’s role in acute care settings.

Data from 22 peer-reviewed articles were included in the analysis.

Principal findings include:

  • Staff and manager experience levels, work complexity, and patient acuity are attributes of nurse managers’ spans of control.
  • Expanded nurse managers’ spans of control can have negative consequences, such as role overload and burnout.
  • Excessive nurse managers’ spans of control can result in low satisfaction among staff and patients.

“An awareness of span of control can promote sustainable nursing practices by improving workplace conditions, staff satisfaction, and patient care quality,” the authors say. The findings support job design changes and encourage more manageable workloads.

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