Getting organized is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you're a busy nurse who multitasks all day long. If you crave order in your daily work routine, eliminate distractions and create a personal filing system to add structure. Clipboards are a nurse's best friend, so use them to keep patient needs and doctors' orders well-organized. There's nothing more frustrating than a disorganized work environment, so clean up the space. It will make your daily tasks easier to accomplish.
Clean Your Work Area
If you have a desk or a designated work area, clean it every day. Toss wrappers and trash; file patient records; sort patient clipboards by name and room number; restock unneeded supplies; and find a new home for last month's edition of People magazine. According to Working Nurse, when nurses complain about feeling overwhelmed, it’s often from the chaos of their work environment -- not from the patient load. Getting rid of messy distractions can help you get more organized and make your work area more functional. Clean your work area at the start or at the end of each shift, so you begin each new shift with a clean slate.
If you don't want to make two dozen trips a day to the medical supply room, research patient tests and lab work needs so you can gather the supplies all at once. This organizational tactic is especially beneficial if supply rooms are located on other floors of the hospital. Bustling from floor to floor might give you a good workout, but it's not an efficient work practice if you're pressed for time. Most lab work procedures require detailed paperwork, so fill out those documents as much as possible in advance. Update patient records, both electronically and in written form, in preparation for upcoming blood tests and other lab work.
Schedule and Prioritize Tasks
A nurse's work demands aren't always predictable, and emergency situations always take precedence over routines. Set a consistent schedule for non-emergency times to make your shift more organized. Prioritize tasks that are most important, and do those first. For example, it's more important to make sure a patient gets her medications on time than it is to reorganize the stock room. Set a schedule for making patient rotations, updating patient files and ordering supplies. Consider working on new patient files at the beginning of your shift and save patient-release files for later in the day. Avoid procrastinating so you'll feel like you accomplished as much as possible and reduce unwanted stress.
Communicate with Off-Duty Nurses
Discuss patient needs and doctors' orders with nurses who are going off-duty. Even though you have charts that detail most of the information, communicating one-on-one and verifying the information can make your job more organized. Working Nurse recommends reviewing times and medication dosages for patients and making sure both you and the off-duty nurse sign the doctor's orders. Reviewing orders with the nurse going off-duty saves you time trying to research what a patient needs -- and time contacting the on-duty doctor to interpret unfamiliar medical charts. Communicating with other nurses also reduces the likelihood that you'll overlook something important that isn't clearly detailed in a patient's records.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.