As the healthcare profession is pushed to do more with less, time management becomes increasingly more important. For a more inexperienced nurse, learning to incorporate time management into the other responsibilities of nursing can be one of the most difficult tasks to learn. There are some simple steps to take in order to increase time management skills.
Learn from Experience
The quickest way to find a good time management plan that works for you is to talk with other people who do a job similar to yours. Ask them about how they schedule their shift and how they decide to prioritize. You can also ask if they have any tools that they use to help increase their efficiency on the job, such as a time log or an organizational sheet. Even if you don't end up using exactly the same system, asking an experienced nurse about his process gives you a huge head start in time management.
First Things First
In nursing school, you were taught that airway breathing and circulation are always the first priorities. So obviously any process or procedure that has to do with those things will be a task you need to address first. It's also important to realize what it is not essential. For example, demands from family members to take care of a less urgent need may feel pressing, but that doesn't mean you need to drop everything and do it. Learning to say "no" is one of the most important skills in nursing time management.
Have A Plan
Based on your own knowledge of the nursing process and some of the tips and tricks you picked up from more experienced co-workers, you can develop plans for care each day. Many nurses keep a small notebook with a general outline of what needs to be done each shift, including medications, treatments, and more frequent vital sign assessments. In addition, you will also need to include patient teaching on this list. Refer back to it frequently.
It's good to have a plan, but you shouldn't be too dependent on it. Since you're working with the changing needs of very sick people, you will need to be able to stop any moment, re-assess, and move to a different task. This flexibility is a skill you can develop, and as you come to trust your assessment skills more, you will find you have even more capacity to be flexible in your time management.
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