As a new nurse, it can be easy to put too much pressure on yourself to be the best immediately.
The learning curve for new nurses can be incredibly high, especially when it comes to managing time and multiple patients, and dealing with high-pressure situations with a cool and collected front.
It is important to know that you are not alone. It will take time for you to find your feet, but there are ways to improve your organization and time management to help you along the way.
That is why today we are sharing our top time management tips for new nurses – or established nurses who feel they need a little bit of polishing.
Arrive early for your shift
Making sure you are early for your shift will not only set a great first impression, but also give you plenty of time to get yourself together, check any handovers and get yourself ready for your shift. During a shift change between nurses, you will need to give yourself time to read up on the patients you will be caring for. Without this, you might miss valuable information about their dietary preferences, medication schedules or something even more crucial.
If a handover is not provided, there is nothing to say you cannot create your own notes to bring with you. Create a sheet for each patient you regularly care for and include their vitals, allergies, medications and diagnoses.
It is also worth taking notes from nurses on the previous shift, so that you have the most up to date information about your patients.
As a general rule of thumb, aim to arrive at your shift with 30 minutes to spare, for your own peace of mind.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
As a nurse, you will have a never ending to do list of tasks, admin and check-ups to complete – making prioritization crucial for a successful workday.
How do you prioritize?
Well, that takes time to practice, however it is important to remember that the patients come first.
Patients that have unstable vitals or a more severe injury or diagnosis should be prioritized. That is not to say you should not divide your time equally across your patients and provide them all with the same quality of care. It is that not prioritizing these patients could – potentially – be a case of life or death.
Next, prioritize medication administration over completing care plans. While everyone needs to be cared for, medications need to be administered in a timely fashion to ensure more serious issues do not occur.
Emergency medication may need to be prescribed too, which will require you to break off from your charting.
To help you prioritize, you should keep a pocket notepad to take note of any jobs you need to complete throughout your shift. Making a list is a great way to ensure you tick off everything that needs doing.
Allow for a level of flexibility
There is lots to do, but nurses should allow for some level of flexibility. The ward is forever changing, with new patients coming in and potential new emergencies occurring. While it is vital you complete as much of your typical routine of charting, medication and care plans as possible, there may be times when situations take higher priority and as such you need to be able to quickly respond and adapt.
Chart your assessments then and there
A large part of a nurse’s routine is charting patients throughout the shift. As a new nurse, it can be hard to remember all the different things you need to assess while checking in on a patient, meaning charting the assessment later in the day can be a nightmare.
To make this process easier, chart your assessments on the computer then and there – if you can. That way, you can nip back into a patient’s room if you find there is something you forgot to check. Doing this not only allows you to get the information onto the computer faster and more accurately, it will also help you to revise all the things you should be checking on a regular basis, so that it comes more naturally to you in the future.
Keep stocked up
Nurses need to be ready to respond and react to any scenario. That is why staying stocked up of all the right equipment will help you stay organized and calm, even in emergencies.
As standard, you should be always have wipes, saline flushes, medical tape and gauze stashed away in your pocket at any time. As well as these, you also need to keep your shears, penlights and stethoscope with you at all times.
Any regularly used lotions or barrier creams are also good to keep handy – as this will save you time having to head back to the stock cupboard.
It is this kind of preparedness that will also allow you to set a good example for your peers and your seniors.
Know your shift pattern
Shift patterns are constantly changing. One week you might be on nights, the next on days. It is important to book all your shifts into your calendar and keep track of any changes. There are plenty of apps available to help you keep track, or you can book them into your work calendar.
Practice time management
Time management will be a core skill when studying for your nursing degree. If you choose to study an online degree – like those provided by Marymount University – you will get to practice time management when working your schedule around your studies. Online degrees work for those who want to continue working while they get qualified and are flexible enough to raise a family while studying. As long as you have great time management, that is.
Time management is vital for nurses at any stage of their career, so learning the ropes as early as possible will help set you up for a successful professional life.
If you have just started your career or are hoping to study nursing soon, get ahead of the game and practice your time management in your spare time. You will not regret it.