Tips for Prioritizing Your Nursing Shift

September 23, 2013 in Nursing TIps

Although clinicals and other out-of-the-classroom experiences help to bridge the gap between nursing schools and medical facilities, stepping onto the floor as a new nurse still comes with a lot of intimidation and stress.

It makes sense that new nurses want to make sure they’re doing everything right but oftentimes mistake taking too much onto their plates as the ideal approach. No matter how hectic a nurse’s schedule is, understanding how to prioritize tasks can make the day-to-day routine much easier to handle.

To Do Lists

Creating to do lists while learning the ropes shouldn’t be seen as a sign of being “the new nurse,” it should be seen as taking initiative. If it helps, make to do lists to help keep track of the most important duties that must be handled that day. Not only does it serve as a useful reminder while running around during a shift, it is a great way to learn how to prioritize which tasks and duties are more important to tend to than others.

Keep the to do list on hand at all times so that it will be easily accessible to refer to. In the midst of a busy shift, new nurses can get a bit scatterbrained and might forget what order they are executing their duties.

Must Do, Should Do & Could Do

These key terms are essential in organizing a nurse’s shift so that they understand how to plan out their workday. “Must do” items on a to do list qualify as the duties that must be attended to as soon as the shift has begun. After spending a few days in the unit, new nurses will be able to grasp which tasks and duties fall under the “must do” category. Make it a point to cross off each item as it is completed instead of waiting until later. This will avoid any confusion and wasted minutes sorting things out.

“Should do” falls second in the line of priorities on a nurse’s to do list. Items that are considered a “should do” also rank as important but while “must do” items are completed right at the top of the shift, the “should do” items are slated as needing to be completed before the end of the shift. This makes it more convenient for nurses to spread out their priorities and in most cases, the “should do” part of the list will take up the majority of the remaining workday.

“Could do” ranks at the bottom but doesn’t mean it is any less important compared to the two mentioned above. What makes the “could do” items unique is that the tasks under this category don’t necessarily have to be completed by the end of a nurse’s shift. However, if a nurse has the time, then those “could do” items can be accommodated. In most instances, knocking a couple of “could do” items off of the list could put a nurse ahead of his/her scheduled tasks, which is always a plus.

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