Forum: Designing the ideal nursing station

by Douglas Elting on August 27, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of comments from heatlhcare architects on one of the thornier issues in facilities design. — Anne Zieger

Douglas Elting, AIA, ACHA, EDAC

Douglas Elting, AIA, ACHA, EDAC

Architects and designers are quick to offer their opinions on the topic of nursing station design. In fact, there are very strong feelings involved. Designing a nurse’s station is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of healthcare design.

I do not believe that there is a single “right way” to design a nurse’s station. A nurse’s station is a paradox. It must be at the same time a space that is open and inviting, a place where privacy prevails, a place where information is shared and concealed, where concentration is paramount and interruptions are prevalent. Ideally, a nurse’s station should be both centralized and decentralized.

Personally, I prefer a hybrid nursing arrangement with a small centralized primary station coupled with decentralized stations. My preference is for an open and inviting space rather than caregivers under glass. A combination of individual and shared work spaces on wheels has some attraction.

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