Nursing

Expert spotlight: Help new nurses keep patients in focus while completing tasks

Nurse Leader Insider, October 27, 2008

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This week, expert Kathleen Bartholomew, RC, RN, MN, shares some tips to help your staff balance their busy workloads and build better relationships with patients.

Q: How can I help my new nurses multitask and focus on communicating with our patients effectively?

A: By its nature, nursing involves a tremendous amount of multitasking. Nurses can be found simultaneously assessing the color and quantity of urine in the Foley catheter, while hanging an IV, talking to patients, and trying to listen for a physician they just paged. Being attentive to a patient these days is challenging for even the most experienced of nurses. Here are some tips you can relay to your nurses, which they can practice every time they enter a patient's room:

  • Jot down as much as you possibly can in your notes (especially the easily-forgettable little things, such as replacing a box of tissues). Don't try to keep a "to-do" list in your head. Trying to remember everything will take your attention away from everyone.
  • Stop at the doorway and take two or three long, deep breaths to give yourself a moment to clear your head. It will allow you to feel as though one project is completed before you start on the next one.
  • Be keenly aware of your body language and behavior. The most important communication happens within the first minute of walking into a patient's room-whether anyone speaks or not.
  • Before you speak, look patients directly in the eye and touch them lightly on the hand or leg-or touch the bed covers (depending on your comfort level and the patient's receptiveness). Nonverbal cues can speak volumes.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? Email your queries to editor Keri Mucci at kmucci@hcpro.com and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.



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