Nursing is one of the hardest professions when it comes to organizing time. Nurses have to balance hands-on patient care, updating medical files, and communicating with other healthcare personnel. Many professions have worked under limited time, but nurses have many people depending on them for care. Each nurse must find a way to perform all of their duties to the best of their abilities, and there is little time to waste.
The combination of providing quality care and completing tasks efficiently is an important and foundational piece of a nurse’s job. Everyone should understand the importance of time management in nursing.
This article will break down why time management is an essential skill for nurses, as well as some of its benefits. Let’s begin:
According to an article in Administrative Science, one of the main sources of stress for nurses is time pressure. While temporary stress is a common issue, once it becomes long-term, it has the potential to become more serious. Chronic stress is known to have negative effects on your body.
Healthline outlines the following as possible health risks of long-term stress:
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Weakened immune system
- High blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
- Fertility problems
Stress in nursing is such a widespread issue that there is even a specific scale to measure it. The Nursing Stress Scale was first published in 1981 in response to increased awareness of the stress that nurses experience. When faced with the possible risks to their health that chronic stress presents, it is important for nurses to find ways to cope where they can.
Time management is a great way to deal with stress – even health authorities agree. There are many reasons that time management reduces stress, including:
Feeling in control
When you have strategies for time management, you put yourself in control of your day. You are the one deciding when things get done, and in what order.
Even if you have duties like giving medications that you have to do at a specific time, you can manage your time around that. You could choose to complete some paperwork beforehand if you know that you have lots to do later. Setting SMART time management goals also helps nurses with managing your tasks and knowing exactly what, when to do something and how to measure success. Great time management technique everybody should use.
When you are in control of your time, you eliminate feelings of helplessness, confusion, or discouragement, which otherwise you would be in some trouble!
Having the structure of a routine
Nursing is an unpredictable career. You never know exactly what illness or injuries patients will come in with, or if the care they need is going to be urgent or not.
If you know that you’ll need to be on your feet to care for newly admitted patients in the afternoon, you can build in time later to catch up on your charting.
Having a regular routine gives you a framework of priorities so you are able to provide whatever care is necessary for your patients.
Avoiding getting overwhelmed
A busy day can quickly feel overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. By organizing your time, you can focus on the tasks you need to complete in order.
If you know you have to check a patient’s blood sugars, update a medical chart, and discharge a patient, focus on the first task until it is completed.
By giving each task your full attention, you are focusing on providing quality care instead of thinking about your other tasks. Taking things one at a time is also called compartmentalization, and is helpful for relieving stress.
By using time management strategies to reduce stress and overwhelm, nurses can approach their work with a clear head and a calm mind. This headspace helps nurses maintain their overall health. This calmer and healthier state is important for nurses to be able to make sure everything is in order for quality patient care.
Increasing Work Efficiency
After reducing stress by creating a routine, the focus can shift to how the work of a nurse is being done. One important benefit of time management in nursing is the ability to work more efficiently.
According to a study, the following are examples of nurses working efficiently:
- Delegating non-nursing tasks to clerks or other healthcare workers
- Communicating with other nurses while charting or prep-work
- Communicating with patients while doing hands-on tasks, such as administering medication
- Documenting in real-time in the patient room using electronic health records
By organizing their time, nurses can create a work plan that ensures they complete all necessary job duties.
When looking at the day in the life of a nurse, like this one from Ameritech College of Healthcare, it is easy to see that a daily routine is hugely important for remaining efficient.
This is because the types of care needed in a hospital often follow a logical track of time – in the morning, patients need assistance, need to be provided with breakfast, and in some cases, medication.
The afternoon and evening have their own set of tasks as well. By working with a daily routine, these tasks are completed when they need to be.
If a nurse did not use any of the time management techniques, and instead did their work in a random or arbitrary order, there could be heavy consequences. Tasks that serve to help patients or other medical staff could be forgotten, and things left until the last minute could be rushed and done poorly. A great way to start learning this is when you are only studying nursing, not actually doing it.
Keep in mind: Using time management to work efficiently directly affects the quality of the healthcare provided to patients.
Providing Quality Care
In 2010, a study was conducted to see how nurses define quality care. When they were interviewed, the participating nurses said they viewed quality care as:
“meeting human needs through caring, empathetic, respectful interactions within which responsibility, intentionality, and advocacy form an essential, integral foundation.”
Ensuring that patients are receiving quality care is something that is important to all nurses. Their day is spent taking care of all aspects of patient health, which requires a lot of work.
By effectively managing their time, nurses can avoid being rushed or distracted by the rest of their tasks. This allows them to take the time they need to provide high-quality care.
Good time management also means there is time for calm, positive communication with patients. Communication is an important part of a nurse’s duties. It is how they educate patients about their diagnosis or treatment, understand how the patient is doing, and make the patient feel comfortable and safe.
If a nurse is under stress, communication will suffer
This could be a result of distraction, such as thinking about what has to be done next, or simply from the mental fatigue that stress creates. As discussed earlier, time management can reduce stress, and the knock-on effect is better communication with patients for higher-quality care.
There are many factors to patient satisfaction, but a study published in Nursing Open found that patients were most satisfied with the care received from nurses. The same study also stated:
“the allocation of sufficient time for talking and listening to patients and providing the information is a prerequisite for patient satisfaction”
This research supporting the organization of a nurse’s time further illustrates the importance of time management in maintaining quality care and patient satisfaction.
Nurses are often referred to as the backbone of healthcare, and without them, it would be impossible for hospitals to provide the level of care that they do.
By reducing stress and keeping nurses from developing health issues from chronic stress, we can make sure they are able to continue practicing to the best of their ability. When nurses are doing their best work, it means that they are organizing their time to provide quality care.
The importance of time management is that it aids in all of these aspects, and provides benefits to the nurses as well as the patients.
Quality healthcare impacts the rest of the population, whether it is by educating about healthy lifestyles, creating a generation of healthy children through maternal care, and preventing the spread of disease. If nurses use their time well, they directly contribute to the health of the wider population.