It’s near the end of an exhausting shift. You’ve finally assigned each patient to a member of your staff, and you’re just sitting down to begin your charting. As you open a file, you begin to daydream about the fuzzy slippers and hot cup of tea you’ll soon enjoy at home. It’s been a long day but, unfortunately, it’s about to get even longer.
Just as you begin your first round of paperwork, a member of your staff bursts through the door. There was a large accident close by, he says, and more than a dozen new patients will be flooding your floor in moments. You quickly abandon your paperwork and start announcing orders. The hospital rush is on.
As a nurse manager, you’re no stranger to busy shifts. The nature of your job leaves plenty of opportunity to face the unexpected. But, despite years of practice, nearly every nursing staff has challenges when handling a rush. To help you maintain order and a high level of care during all situations, consider the following tips.
Make the Most of Downtime
You’ve probably heard the superstition that a full moon brings a higher number of patients. While this may be nothing more than ER lore, there’s something to be said for preparing for the worst. Although you don’t necessarily need to work each shift as though a disaster is imminent, it’s important to prepare your staff for the fact that anything can happen at anytime.
Downtime is a precious commodity in the nursing world, so encourage your team to use it wisely. Instead of putting off all paperwork until the end of a shift, use lulls to catch up on charting and other documentation. This way, when you and your staff reach the end of your shifts, you will have less standing between you and much-needed rest.
Keep Supplies Well Organized
Every hospital has a documented procedure for storing and organizing its inventory of supplies. However, it’s also easy to become slack and let things slide. While this may not affect your quality of care on a slow day, even a few extra moments tracking down a specific item can cause unnecessary bottle-necking during a busy shift. To prevent this issue, and keep your staff operating like a well-oiled machine, maintain strict order of medical devices, medications and other supplies.
Develop a Culture of Cooperation
It goes without saying that nurses, like all teams of professionals, are most efficient when they cooperate. To ensure your team is at its most productive during a rush, foster team collaboration and unity at all times. Hold team exercises to help your staff become more comfortable asking one another for assistance.
When nurses know they have the support of their co-workers, they feel more confident and empowered. This can translate into much-needed efficiency during your department’s most challenging, high-volume moments.
Being a nurse manager means constantly working to balance the needs of your staff, the needs of your patients and the needs of your department. When there’s a rush, maintaining this balance can prove nearly impossible. But by remaining prepared for more hectic shifts, and ensuring your staff is poised and ready at a moment’s notice, you can exceed in meeting all your patient care goals.
Interested in taking your team’s quality of care to the next level? Learn how in our free ebook How Nurses Can Increase Satisfaction through Patient-Centered Care.