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Management has been unresponsive to my staffing concerns. How do I get management to address the problem?



Dear Donna,

I work in an inpatient infirmary at a correctional facility. Our usual staffing is two RNs and two LPNs. Our census is up to 21. Last week, one RN was scheduled to be off without a replacement. One LPN called in sick, which left us with two nurses and 18 patients. I felt it was unsafe. I called the administrator and left a voicemail for her about the situation. No call back. I called the ADON — she was out sick and said she would call back. No response. Do I need to contact human resources? This is not the first time management has been unresponsive to staffing needs.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Cheryl,

I consulted a human resource expert on this. Here’s what he had to say: “The on-call administrator and ADON bear responsibility in this situation — the administrator because she should have been available to deal with any crises that might arise, and the ADON because she was aware of a problem but failed to act. There is a big difference between unresponsiveness on the part of administration and administrative decisions with which an employee does not agree. The latter is a part of life, but the former never is acceptable, in my opinion. If management truly is unresponsive, I believe the nurse should document all incidents and file a formal complaint in accordance with the organization’s established procedure. HR can provide guidance on the best way to go about doing this.”

My best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit

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