There’s been a lot of attention in the media this week relating to National Nurses Week. The event, which kicks off each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale's birthday, is focusing on the theme “Nurses – Delivering Quality & Innovation in Patient Care.”

According to the American Nurses Association:
• The U.S. has 3.1 million licensed RNs, of whom 2.6 million are actively employed in nursing
• The profession has grown by 5.3 percent since 2004
• 62.2 percent of employed RNs work in hospitals
• The proportion of RNs under age 40 increased for the first time since 1980, to 29.5 percent

With the aging population and the expanded need for healthcare services that’s expected in coming years, healthy nursing staffs will be a necessity. So will well-designed spaces that attract and retail these quality healthcare employees.

As our industry continues to focus on innovation and offer new designs and improved workflow solutions for healthcare settings, I’ve pulled some recent examples of design-specifics relating to nurses and their work:

1. Nurses need to feel supported. A study by HOK and Knoll Inc. looked at nurses from six nursing units across three hospitals and found a combination of centralized and decentralized nursing stations—not just one or the other—would be ideal. Another key recommendation for nurses’ station design was the need for strong visual access to patients. Many facilities have started addressing this with attached nursing stations with windows into the patient room.

2. As much as they need to be connected to patients, they also need to be in contact with their coworkers. Peer support is critical for nurses to help them feel emotionally supported and part of a team.  At Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, designers of the two-level NICU made an effort to bring staff closer to one another with the creation of a two-story staff lounge with an open staircase connecting the floors, enabling socialization and visits during break times.

3. Keep comfort in mind. Long hours, emotionally demanding work, an on-the-go shift—there’s a lot that impacts a nurse’s day. Whether it’s choosing ergonomically designed work stations, using layout and creative storage solutions to reduce walking distances, or increasing your budget to install a more cushioned flooring product where nurses work the most, design details like these can make a difference in how employees feel at work.

While this is only a snapshot of design ideas, it’s a reminder to think not only about patients’ needs but also the needs of those working in the spaces you design.