BACKGROUND: A pressing need in the field of nursing is the identification of optimal staffing levels to ensure patient safety. Effective staffing requires comprehensive measurement of nursing workload to determine staffing needs. Issues surrounding nursing workload are complex, and the volume of workload is growing; however, many workload systems do not consider the numerous workload factors that impact nursing today. PURPOSE: The purpose of this concept analysis was to better understand and define nursing workload as it relates to the acute-care setting. METHODS: Rogers' evolutionary method was used for this literature-based concept analysis. DISCUSSION: Nursing workload is influenced by more than patient care. The proposed definition of nursing workload may help leaders identify workload that is unnoticed and unmeasured. CONCLUSION: These findings could help leaders consider and identify workload that is unnecessary, redundant, or more appropriate for assignment to other members of the health care team.