Nursing models help define how care is delivered, how resources are allocated and deployed, and can provide the structure that defines both the organization of responsibilities as well as accountability.
While staffing and nursing care models tend to come, go and or evolve, healthcare delivery issues such as nursing shortages and crises such as pandemics force regular evaluations of these models to help nursing leadership identify the nursing model that is best suited to the current situation.
Defining Modular Nursing
The primary nursing care model may not be as appropriate for the current pandemic moment, which has led some organization to consider a modular nursing model. Modular nursing is not new—it began its evolution in the 1950s—but is rather a modification of the team nursing model. Team nursing is still in practice today and calls for registered nurses and physicians to coordinate the work of the entire patient care team. In addition to the nurse and physician, the team might also include occupational and physical therapists as well as social workers and discharge planners. Eventually, the team nursing model was modified to include nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, and some other unlicensed personnel.
Team nursing eventually evolved into modular nursing. In this model a patient care unit is divided into geographic modules with an RN as team leader. The same team of caregivers is regularly assigned to the modules. The team will include RNs and will also include LPNs and nursing assistants. Typically, each module will have access to the medications, supplies, and linens needed within the module. The goal of modular nursing is to make patient care less fragmented and is most frequently used in inpatient and outpatient care areas.
Modular Nursing – Capitalizing on Strengths
The healthcare delivery system in the U.S. continues on its journey of value-based rather than volume-based care, and healthcare providers are evaluating nursing models that support value-based care.
The modular nursing model has the potential to provide advantages for both patients and nursing staff and may be a particularly good fit for value-based care.
Modular Nursing – Managing Weaknesses
While advantages appear to outweigh disadvantages, there can be some challenges as well:
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