The Impact of Nursing Station Layouts: Centralized vs. Decentralized

We understand the importance to design nursing stations to reflect the needs of your operation. The layout of a healthcare space can have a significant impact on staff performance and patient satisfaction. Take a look as we breakdown the layout of a centralized and decentralized nursing station.

Decentralized Nursing Stations

Decentralized nursing stations are made up of several, small nurse alcoves throughout the patient floor. In some cases, an area is dedicated to staff to conduct focus work and administrative duties. Decentralized nursing stations are perfect in settings where patients require immediate attention like an intensive care unit. Postpartum departments also benefit from decentralized nursing stations due to the attentive needs of patients.


  • Nurses spend more time in a patient’s room than at nursing station
  • Disperses the noise level on a floor compared to a centralized nursing station
  • May reduce travel distances for staff


  • May cause nursing staff to feel isolated and secluded from team
  • Fewer opportunities for collaboration and communication
  • Corridors could become cluttered with mobile equipment

Centralized Nursing Stations

A centralized nursing station acts as a hub for staff administration, support and storage. Centralized nursing stations are usually placed near the main access to a patient floor or central location on a floor. It’s important for centralized nursing stations to offer maximized views of patients from most angles. Centralized nursing stations are perfect in settings where unit security is a concern or in a teaching hospital where education of residents and nurses occur.


  • Promotes a learning and collaborative work environment, perfect for entry-level & senior staff interactions
  • More efficient administration workflow process


  • Increased walking distance from nursing station to patient room may cause staff to limit time with patients
  • More noise complaints than decentralized nursing station

Both layouts have their advantages and drawbacks. In some of our client’s projects, we’ve found a hybrid of both was their best bet (pictured to the right). The client needed patient rooms designed for ongoing observation but also a hub to host the needs of the full patient floor. Satellite alcoves were placed outside of patient rooms and a central nurse station with medication administration as well as storage for the floor.

Our goal as designers is to define your operational needs and implement the best layout possible for your staff and patients. We’d love to discuss any operational challenges you have and provide a solution tailored for you. Reply to this email and let’s start the conversation!