February 15, 2022

Ethics of Healthcare Staffing: How to Manage Non-Clinical Dilemmas

How can healthcare organizations support their teams through ethical dilemmas? It starts with staffing.

The staffing challenges brought on by COVID-19 are nothing short of unusual. Nurses need to call in sick, but don’t want to let down their teams. Managers must help preserve the well-being of their staff while struggling with their own burnout symptoms. And all staff members must navigate vaccine mandates and COVID-19 visitor guidelines.

These and many other situations raise ethical and moral questions among healthcare professionals. How do healthcare facilities support managers and staff as they tackle these dilemmas? While there are no easy answers, we’ve compiled a few staffing-related scenarios and solutions to help bring peace of mind to your hard-working professionals.

Managing staffing dilemmas

Scenario A

A nurse isn’t feeling well. She knows she should call in sick, but she doesn’t want to let down her coworkers who are already maxed out.


When a nurse comes to work sick, they risk passing on their illness—including COVID-19—to colleagues and patients. Prevent that from happening by fostering a culture that prioritizes wellness. Implement policies that support the decision to call in sick. Flexible leave policies and dedicated sick days help.

As a manager, you can also turn to CareRev’s marketplace platform. Within minutes of booking a shift, you can secure coverage thanks to our fully-vetted local professionals.

CareRev nurse filling staffing gap

Scenario B

A department head needs to fill multiple nursing roles. Their superior requested that they hire full-time employees, but they haven’t started the recruiting process yet.


Consider a flexible staffing model. The traditional healthcare staffing model involves staffing to about 90% capacity and using per-diem talent and travelers when needed. But today’s healthcare facilities have more staffing resources available than ever before.

Diversify your staffing to fill in gaps with per-diem talent. When you fill staffing gaps through CareRev, you tap into a pool of local talent that’s ready to pick up shifts and you keep caregiving in your community.

This is important to meeting nurses and other healthcare professionals where they are with the flexibility they need.

CareRev nurse with patient after vaccination

By staffing to a lower capacity and supplementing with on-demand talent, healthcare organizations match the right clinician with the right license to the right patient at the right time—without the costs associated with overstaffing and without the risk associated with understaffing.

Scenario C

Nurses and other clinicians face moral challenges nearly every day. Conflicts arise during patient visits, during conversations with colleagues, and when balancing personal wellness with a commitment to provide quality care. Currently, however, they don’t share their concerns with management.


Provide a venue where clinicians can discuss ethically tricky situations and their concerns. Make weekly or biweekly manager check-ins a safe space to ask questions and raise moral topics. Take that one step further by holding regular ethics-themed meetings.

A study published in International Medicine Journal explored ethical and moral challenges that arose during COVID-19. To help leadership understand these challenges and the stress they create, the authors suggested “targeted ethics-based forums that provide a non-confrontational platform to discuss and explore the ethical dilemmas.” These forums “serve as useful and immediate feedback mechanisms to managers and leadership by allowing for the identification of specific areas of concern that can then be addressed.”

These forums provide a framework to help leadership address and alleviate moral distress. They also give staff a way to share their concerns, which helps them feel appreciated and heard.

CareRev nurse treating sick child

Addressing ethics in healthcare staffing means addressing a range of sticky topics. By helping clinicians express and resolve their concerns, you’ll help lower their stress levels as well as resolve some common staffing concerns.

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