Courtney is a new nurse and although she is doing really well clinically, Courtney never gets out on time – even on a good day. She has only been working on the unit for 6 months but is already feeling burned out. So, she confides in her former preceptor who tells Courtney exactly why she is struggling.
Courtney never delegates.
When asked, Courtney explains that she feels like she’s dumping on the nursing assistants/co-workers and doesn’t know what or how to delegate to others.
Courtney shares a common problem with new nurses.
The Advisory Board Company did a study a few years ago regarding new nurse competence. They asked executive leaders in hospitals to rate new nurses on 36 different competencies.
The new nurses were ranked #1 on technology (of course!!). But they ranked last on delegation, time management and prioritization (of course!).
Nurses are notoriously known for being poor delegators. Sometimes it’s because we think it’s easier just to do it ourselves; sometimes it’s because we don’t trust that the person we are delegating to will actually DO IT; and sometimes it’s because we feel we are dumping on others things that we CAN actually do. Read more about delegation by clicking here and here.
When people delegate, it’s usually because of 2 reasons: 1) to save time, or 2) because someone else can do the task better.
I send out a monthly newsletter through a service called Constant Contact. At first, I would spend a few hours writing the content and then at least 7-8 hours putting the newsletter together! Figuring out how to add blocks with pictures, how to manipulate the fonts, and where to put various links, etc. Then I got smart and asked my graphic artist, Bobbie, to do for me. I write the content on a word document, give it to Bobbie and it takes her 1-hour to create the newsletter. Bravo!
Delegating is a smart skill to learn but how do you know the difference between delegating and dumping? How do you break the cycle that Courtney and others like her have of doing everything herself and not delegating to anyone?
Ask yourself these questions:
· Is someone else more available than you?
If you have to enter an order for a CT scan of the head and the unit secretary is having a personal conversation with the pharmacy tech = DELEGATE
If you have to walk down 3 hallways and up 2 flights of stairs to find the nursing assistant just to put your patient on the bedpan = DON’T DELEGATE YOU ARE DUMPING!
· Are someone else’s skills better than yours?
Nursing assistants check blood sugars all day long. It’s not that you can’t do it, but if your patient needs his blood sugar checked = DELEGATE!
· What is the cost of YOU doing the task versus someone else?
Your patient needs to get dressed because she is going home. You are certainly capable of helping her, however, it takes about 15 minutes to get her dressed. If a nursing assistant makes $11/hr, this equals $2.75. If YOU get her dressed at $24/hr, you are costing your organization $6. DELEGATE
· What else can YOU be doing with your time if you delegate?
And probably the most important question, what could you do with your time if you were delegating appropriately?
Reviewing your patient’s medication reconciliation before she goes home to ensure she is on the right meds; teaching your patient about the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do; collaborating with social services to set up home care for a patient who lives alone.
What I’m not suggesting is that nurses delegate everything they can while they sit around the nurses station eating Bon Bons and reading Cosmo magazines. What I am saying is that nurses, like Courtney, need to delegate appropriately so that they can do what nurses do best – provide competent clinical care to patients in need.
I’d love to know YOUR thoughts on the topic of delegation. Thanks for reading, take care and stay connected!
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