Time Management and Best Nursing Practices
Time management skills help the nurses to use their time in the most effective and productive way. It allows the nurse to achieve better results at available time. It requires organizing it in a way that will allow achieving desired outcomes and task completion. Many nurses want to help patients by meeting all their needs. Unfortunately, some of them fail to provide sufficient help to their patients. In this case, the question appears, namely how time management skills can be used to facilitate best practices in the nursing field. In addition to the direct patient care responsibilities, there are others such as charting, practitioners’ orders to be checked, restocking medical supplies and reports. In other words, the needs tend to be unlimited whereas time is limited. It is important to analyze and manage time to achieve key outcome with efficacy. Time management allows the novice nurse to prioritize care, envisage possible outcomes and perform the most critical interventions. Outside the professional field, it allows the nurse to spend time for friends, leisure and extra-curricular activities.
The need for time management
Since nurses envisage the desired optimal outcomes, they must consider what can and should be achieved given lack of time and limited resources. These circumstances include a rough start to a busy shift, late or absent personnel, uncooperative and patient crisis (Kelly 427). While deciding what is reasonable to accomplish the task, the nurse has to consider the resources that are available. For example, if someone is on a sick leave and there is no replacement available, it will be unreasonable for the nurse to plan discussion reinforcement regarding home based care for a patient scheduled for discharge. On the other hand, there would be no question that interventions preventing life-threatening emergencies to save a life, will occur as priorities. They must be performed regardless of the staff shortage levels (Kelly 428).
In addition, life- threatening conditions include patients at risk to themselves and others; and the patients, whose vital signs and degree of consciousness, indicate potential for respiratory or circulation failure( Kelly 428). In this case, a patient with such condition is the highest priority and should be monitored until transfer or stabilization. These conditions cannot be anticipated and can occur at any time during the shift; therefore, the nurse should use the quick ABC guide to implement the assessment. A stands for Airway, and this is the highest priority to check if the airway is open. B stands for Breathing, and is used to check whether there is a breathing distress (Kelly 428). Lastly, C stands for Circulation, and is used to check any compromise in the circulation system.
The bigger picture
Further, the wider picture must be examined, and there should be no nurse works in isolation. All nurses should know what is expected from their co-workers, what is happening on the other shifts and beyond the unit. If nurses know what is expected from their coworkers, they can assist them during emergencies. In return, they will also receive assistance if their shifts are characterized by the crisis. (Kelly 428).Secondly, if areas outside the unit are overwhelming, a nurse should be ready to assist in that unit. When nurses consider the situation globally, they are less likely to be frustrated when asked to offer assistance. They can also involve possibility of given and received assistance into their time management plan (Kelly 430).
After defining corresponding priorities, the nurses know the most important activities which must be accomplished first. Time management strategies can be used in all areas of care delivery. These strategies are necessary to maximize the effectiveness of the nurse’s time and minimize lost time and efforts. Nurses should estimate the time each activity will require and plan accordingly (Kelly 430). The previous discussed activity may help to estimate the time many activities will require. For example, a patient may need more time for medication administration that the others. In this case, it will be wise for the nurse to take care of this patient after dealing with others. In addition, by estimating the time of activities, the nurses can schedule the best time to perform their activities. The nurses may notice, when passing 6pm medications, that water pitchers are empty and juice cups dry. Scheduling the assistant nurse to refill them prior to administering medication will be a prudent response to an observation( Kelly 430).Further, it is important that the nurses create an environment supporting time management and patient care. In the frenzy of giving care, the nurses often forget the obvious information such as where they have placed the linens and medical supplies. Summarily, time management principles aim at creating more enjoyable time and not filling every moment with chores (Kelly 440).
The role of leadership
In order to help nurses overcome the challenges they face in their practice, leadership skills play an important role. The leader-manager’s subtle reactions to others are vital. There are negative outcomes when the leaders negate the viewpoints of other nurses, criticizing their behaviors and work using non-verbal reactions to show disapproval (Baker 154). If a particular nursing practitioner is deemed to be out of favor, he will have difficulty in securing the cooperation and thrust of others. Consequently, it will affect the performance of team work that is much required in order to improve patient care. On the other hand, being sensitive to one’s own message about other nurses and sending positive comments is a best practice to build the trust within the group (Baker 154).Further, successful transformational leaders rarely use punishment and disapproval as techniques of control. They should be sparingly and thoughtfully applied. Mistakes are inevitable in any field, including nursing (Baker 154). However, if a nurse makes mistake, the leader should search what he right and compliment them. Showing the nurses how to avoid mistakes in the future is a practice aiming at building trust and self-esteem of the other person.
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In nursing profession it is very important to communicate openly and honestly. Both the nurses and leaders should have the skills to communicate not only facts but also feelings of encouragements and disappointment (Baker 154). In other words, it is crucial to maintain humanness. Regarding the leaders, they should share all information except that which is confidential or harmful to divulge. A skillful leader knows how to decide what information is harmful to divulge in different situations. In nursing practice, all the team players should feel comfortable while expressing different opinions. In this case, the group should not criticize others who express negative information. Even the poor ideas should not be penalized. In addition, one of the expectations in leadership roles is that the leaders will follow their fiduciary responsibilities. This means that one cannot benefit from his managerial position. There should be a sense of fairness to all.
Delegation of duties also demonstrates trust in a very concrete and measurable way being an act of trust (Kelly &Maureen 3). By giving other nurses’ power authority and responsibility the leaders enhances their self-esteem and places trust. Consistency is the skill required to build trust. It is achieved by considering the vision of the department and using it in decision making and when taking actions. By clarifying expectations and giving people a clear sense of goals the leader ensures consistency and competency. Additionally, it is crucial to maintain genuineness and integrity among the nurses. Some popular ways of not being genuine are to test the nurse by withholding information or providing an event with the purpose to see their reactions (Kelly, Patricia &Maureen 5). Another way is to spy the nurses rather than getting information directly from the available source.
Advantages of time management in nursing
Time is one of the most valuable resources in nursing practice; therefore, nurses need to manage it in order to spend it in professional activities. Time management skills sure beneficial to nurses in various ways. For one, when effectively management, it helps the nurses to a clarity of mind. When a nurse manages time well, he or she will be able to handle multiple demands in their roles calmly. In this case, the nurse will still be able to pay attention to the most aspect of the job even in the midst of crises (Baker 53). On the other hand, if the nurse has poor time management skills, he or she will be struggling to accomplish emerging task and keep on top of their workload. They will not be peaceful to reflect on their own practice and offer proactive assistance to others (Baker 54).
Conserving personal energy: Nurses have a limited amount of energy to use for the achievement of professional and personal goals (Baker 54). The role of time management in these cases is to minimize the number of demands on themselves at any one time to assure that they have adequate energy at all times.
Non-verbal messaging about significance: The way that any nurse spends their time sends a message to others, for instance, about what they think is important or should be given priority (Baker 54). Additionally, when nurses manage time properly, he or she will have control over one’s time and less likely to experience burnout. In other words, the success in nursing career can be measured by how the nursing staff spends their time on activities that are meaningful and brings satisfaction and enjoyment (Baker 54).
Establishing time management technique enables setting deadlines for completion of the tasks. With big projects, dividing responsibilities is essential. Although individual nurses can renegotiate deadlines, it should not become a normal habit (Huber 91). In addition, becoming skillful with technology is worth time and effort, but struggling with the learning curve is enviable. Creating the time, planning for it and committing to it are essential tasks. Sticking to these expectations can change the culture to one that is healthy for the staff, patients, and their families.
The consequences of poor time management includes, being unable to manage activities productively and negatively impacting others. The other staff in the nursing field can be affected negatively, if one of the does not complete the task or a project on time (Baker 54). Mostly, people often rely on others’ input to complete their work. It thus becomes unfair to others not to be timely in submission of one’s own work.
One of the biggest challenges that graduate is how to organize and use their time efficiently through a process of time management. For one, the number of patients assigned to be under graduate’s care is typically fewer than those assigned when they become regular employees (Ellis & Celia 513). In addition, this graduate did not have sufficient time to become efficient in many of the technical procedures required in nursing practice. Consequently, time management skills become essential. Additionally, as the nurses learn how to manage time more effectively, there are certain principles that can assist them through the process (Ellis & Celia 513).
Principles of time management
Understanding one-self. While learning to manage one’s time there are many other behavior-related concerns with a thorough assessment of oneself. This includes giving attention to the basic physical needs, identifying things that restore one’s level of energy (Ellis & Celia 513). It also involves examining individual patterns of behavior. Adequate nutrition, sufficient rest, appropriate exercise and relaxation are the parts of appearing in the nursing environment in the best possible condition to perform. Nurses should plan activities requiring the greatest energy output and concentration to coincide to when the energy levels are low (Ellis & Celia 513). Second, they should try to identify which factors create the greatest stress, how they can be mitigated, and the activities that will help in dealing with stress.
Taking control of one’s time. Responding to the requests of others result in one of the greatest expenditures of time. These requests may be for assistance or directed towards socialization. In this case, the nurse may lose her spare time. Although it is extremely difficult to refuse to offer assistance to a colleague, there are some evident situations in which it is easier (Ellis & Celia 513). First, this occurs when the nurse is asked to assist in something which she lacks the necessary skill. In this case, the nurse needs to recognize honestly these instances and decline involvement. For example, this can occur when a seasoned nurse on the unit asks a newly graduated colleague to stay with a critical patient while she takes a break. The new nurse may lack the necessary knowledge to safely evaluate that patient; it is, thus, essential for the nurse to refuse in order to avoid jeopardizing the safety of the patient (Ellis & Celia 513).
Further, there are also some situations when it becomes challenging to honor a request even if the nurse is capable of performing necessary actions. The main reason is that it will allow the nurse to complete her assignment timely. In such cases, the best solution is to offer apology for not being able to honor the request (Ellis & Celia 515). Additionally, interruptions also prevent the use of valuable time. While halting an action in the process, the nurses often have to reorient themselves to the task before starting it again. Consequently, the task will require more completion time than usually. The solution for the nurse is to be assertive with those who cause frequent interruptions. She should explain as politely as possible why one does not need to be interrupted (Ellis & Celia 514).
Some activities, such as developing a patient’s plan of care, require thoughtful attention. Seeking a quiet place with fewer disturbances will increase the efficiency with which the nurse will be able to complete the plan (Ellis & Celia 515). Some hospitals have realized the importance of time management and are structuring a unit located away from the major area of activity where such tasks can be completed. In addition to interruptions, social chatting is also a great time waster. Although it is interesting to get updates from other members, the nurses waste time without noticing. However, following the time management strategy, the nurse will be able to excuse themselves from such conversations (Ellis & Celia 515). It is also important to communicate such messages in a genuine and polite manner to avoid hurting people or making them feel abandoned.
Developing a time schedule or plan helps the nurse to plan how to use their time, stay focused and avoid interruptions. The key aspect requires defining priorities for both short-term and long-term activities (Ellis & Celia 515). Once the nurse has established a basic plan, the next step is to develop a to-do list and determine what activities must be done first. The nurses should double-check their to-do list to see if there are any activities that can be deleted or delegate to someone else. To-do list will help the nurse to avoid forgetting to fulfill some important tasks. They also serve as reinforcement to many individuals in nursing practice who are amazed numerous items they have completed during given period of time (Ellis & Celia 515).
Drawbacks to time management
There are two behaviors that help in time management, namely avoiding time wasters and procrastination. It is not unusual for nurses to experience time wasters in certain occurrences that steel their valuable time (Ellis & Celia 515). The major sources of interruptions include telephone calls, drop-in visitors, personal disorganization, and poor communication. However, time wasters are unique to individual nurse. While completing their personal analysis, the nurses should consider the ways in which dealing with those activities represents time wasters (Ellis & Celia 515). Once identified, the nurses will be able to make plans for eliminating or decreasing the time spent for each activity.
On the other hand, procrastination refers to the tendency to delay the actions performance necessary to accomplish important tasks. Delaying a task will lead to time wastage. Some factors that lead to procrastination include fear of failure, anger, and hostility (Ellis & Celia 515). Regardless of the behavior basis, an important step is a personal commitment to complete the tasks on time. This is achieved by establishing realistic deadlines and adhering to them. Another suggestion is dividing the tasks into smaller and manageable units (Ellis & Celia 515).
Nursing is complex environment and it may be difficult to set priorities. Often the nurses follow priorities of others. Defining them is a key management technique. Realizing priority is the first step (Huber 90). Nurses may think they know what their leaders want as a priority, but often asking brings relief when true priorities are revealed. In the nursing field, patients and their families need nurses and rely on them to assure their safe passage through the health care system (Huber 90). Being people-focused nurse sometimes means readjusting tasks and duties if possible; the chief nurse can postpone tasks such as many aspects associated with human resource department.
Using leadership skills to manage time includes knowing when to delegate and use the skill to empower others to take responsibility for different aspects of unit functioning. Tackling tasks through delegation is an important step. Sharing the load of unit management is key aspect to help nurses and other care professionals feel engaged in their contribution to the unit or department (Huber 91). Shared decision-making requires different skills such as coaching and mentoring in aspects of decisions and actions to be given priority. To some extent, some of time management skills require the head nurses, who empower others, to become accountable for unit functioning.
Conclusively, with the current unprecedented transformation in healthcare, time management is the key to achieve the best practices. The nurses should be prepared for the worst with a steady stand while planning future with passion and great expectations. The nurses and their executives should be prepared to transverse both the expected and unexpected challenges that lie in the dynamism of nursing career. When individual nurses adopt time management techniques, he or she will be able to use time in more important activities. Most important, nurses will not get frustrated even when faced with unusual events. Poor time management will make the affected nurse to experience setbacks in such situations. Regarding nursing leaders, they are expected to be role models while being true to themselves. Ensuring continuity of care is vital to help the direct care nurses feel as they can leave the unit to reenergize themselves in a way that will help them cope with their job responsibilities Most importantly, as a nursing executive, it is crucial to create the environment where they nurses utilize strategies to decrease stress and manage their own time. This is achieved by setting expectations for behavior, attitude, and actions. To support the nurse manager, the supervisor’s supportive behaviors are vital for job satisfaction an organizational commitment. The nursing executives need a level of decisional authority to be effective while supporting their units or departments. Such autonomy is also related to a certain amount of predictability in the experience of the executive. Transparency, sharing information, and involving all staff in decision-making will enhance a predictable nature to the work flow.
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