With fewer nurses in the unit, helping each other is key.
Staff Nurse, Mother-Baby Unit Wake Medical Center, Raleigh, N.C.
With constant reductions in hospital staff, getting things done efficiently is harder than ever. You can help streamline work flow in your department by encouraging teamwork among staff—even if you're not a manager. Here's how.
1. Start the wave. Be the first to help another nurse with a difficult patient. Assist with activities of daily living, bathe the patient, or do whatever your colleague needs to stay on schedule. You'll soon find her returning the favor.
2. Be a mentor. Take new nurses under your wing and help them feel at home in your department. Offer to be a resource if their preceptor is unavailable. By demonstrating to them that you're a team player, you'll encourage them to follow suit.
3. Ask for help when you need it. If you find yourself falling behind in your schedule, ask a colleague for assistance. That way, you won't become frustrated when you think of all the other things still left on your to-do list.
4. Think ahead. Have as much ready for the next shift as possible. For example, place another bag of intravenous solution in your patient's room if the current bag is almost empty, or leave a spare set of sheets in your patient's room for middle-of-the-night bed changes.
5. Be prompt for report. Unless you're in the middle of an emergency, give report when the next shift is ready for it. Nothing is more frustrating than starting a shift behind schedule. Finish what you were doing when you're done with report.
In the meantime, don't expect the concept of teamwork to take off overnight. It takes practice, commitment, and lots of promotion. But it's also contagious. Once the concept begins to stick, you'll see a new and improved attitude in your unit. At that point, you can congratulate yourself on a job well done.