Ask the expert: Briefings on the nursing unit

Nurse Leader Insider, April 18, 2011

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This week, Gary L. Sculli, RN, MSN, ATP, and David M. Sine, MA, CSP, ARM, CPHRM, explains how briefings can be beneficial on the nursing unit, and how they should be executed.

Q: How do I implement effective briefings that are used in the operating room on the nursing unit?

A: Crew resource management (CRM)-based briefings can and should be used outside the operating room (OR) wherever healthcare professionals work together to deliver and manage patient care. This is especially true on medical-surgical nursing units where activity occurs at a fever pitch, patient acuity is high, and the need for effective communication remains constant 24/7.

Let’s look at some key points about briefings and discuss application to the nursing environment. An effective briefing should be:

  • Short: Briefings are designed to be succinct. This is relative, of course. For example, a briefing by a nurse to a nursing assistant at the start of a shift, or a surgeon prior to making an incision, may be three to five minutes in length. A briefing by a nurse to a patient before starting an IV or a physician to a nurse in a cardiac step down area may be shorter. The exact time required to brief is not important. However, if you find yourself talking on and on, and five minutes becomes 15, then the briefing threshold has been crossed. The point is, keep it short.

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