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Insufficient staffing is the number one challenge nurses face today, according to a survey that assessed nurses' perceptions of the profession, patient safety, and the health care system.


Researchers with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and Epocrates, Inc., surveyed 507 nurses who use Epocrates communication products in urban and rural facilities nationwide. About 70% had been practicing nursing for 10 years or longer.


Most (72%) cited insufficient staffing as their greatest challenge, and 65% said they spend more time doing administrative tasks than they did 3 years ago. Nurses also reported that they're spending more time maintaining a safe patient-care environment and believe that human error and poor handwriting contribute the most to medical errors.


When asked what efforts would improve patient safety, 51% of nurses said higher staff-to-patient ratios. Nurses also said bedside physician order entry and bar coding would enhance patient safety.


Although many nurses expressed concern about the future of health care, 85% of respondents said that if they could go back to the time when they were choosing a career, they'd choose nursing again. For more information, visit