Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Tips for a Smooth Nursing Shift ...
Tips for a Smooth Nursing Shift Change

Tips for a Smooth Nursing Shift Change

At the end of a long day of caring for patients, it’s time to give the end-of-shift report to the oncoming nurses. Although it may be tempting to rush through this routine duty, patient safety hinges on a complete and correct exchange of information.

“We underestimate its importance,” says Elizabeth Henneman, RN, PhD, CCNS, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “It is one of the most critical times we have to communicate accurate information about the patient’s status and the plan for future care.”

Seasoned nurses like Henneman say the shift report can be a positive experience for outgoing and oncoming nurses alike if they avoid common pitfalls and observe some best practices.

Safety Is Key

One of the most frequent errors during a shift report is inadvertently omitting critical safety information, says Henneman, who is also an ICU nurse at Baystate Medical Center. “We often think that the oncoming nurse will get this information somewhere else, such as on the chart, but this verbal communication is key,” she says.

Henneman teaches nursing students the three key safety areas to cover: allergies, code status and medical team members. Allergy information is critical, because it may dictate which medications can be safely administered to a patient. Code status includes information about whether a patient wants to be resuscitated. Finally, oncoming nurses need to know the members of the patient’s medical team in case a nurse needs to call for help.

In addition to safety information, an outgoing nurse must inform the oncoming nurse about a patient’s medical history and current condition. This information needs to be conveyed methodically, such as moving through each body system (cardiac, urinary, etc.) or going from head to toe.

Another key piece of information is the patient’s future care plan. “The future care plan is one of the most important things that can be missed,” Henneman says. “As nurses, we should always know where we are heading, because this prioritizes what we are doing.”

For example, a nurse who is ending a shift may know that a patient will be going to the operating room for a procedure. The oncoming nurse needs to know this so she can be sure the patient does not eat.

Work from a Cheat Sheet

Remembering each patient’s details throughout the day may seem overwhelming. To keep track of important developments, Evelyn McLaughlin, RN, CNS, MSN, a medical/surgical clinical nurse specialist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, encourages new nurses to carry a cheat sheet during their shift. Nurses can use this sheet to record lab results, physicians’ comments and information about problems that arose.

McLaughlin urges nurses to update the sheet throughout their shifts rather than waiting to the end to add information. Although recording the information in the moment may take more time, doing so usually results in a better end-of-shift report. “It takes less time if the outgoing nurse delivers a comprehensive report rather than giving a very skimpy report that requires the oncoming nurse to ask questions and fish for information,” McLaughlin adds.

If an oncoming nurse has a question the outgoing nurse cannot answer, McLaughlin encourages the outgoing nurse to offer to get the answer. “It shows that you are a team player,” she says. “It can create tension between nurses when the shift report is not adequate.”

Patients Aid in Shift Reporting

In October 2006, Torrance Memorial started experimenting with a new method of shift reporting that has improved the transition between shifts. Nurses started walking to each patient’s room to give the report, McLaughlin says. Oncoming nurses see things in a patient’s room that trigger important questions. An additional benefit is that patients can confirm the details the outgoing nurses are communicating.

For McLaughlin, who previously oriented new nurses, seeing a good shift report is one of the greatest rewards. “I’ve noticed that the new graduates sometimes give better reports than the senior nurses,” she says. “They have learned a better way of really doing a comprehensive end-of-shift report.”

Latest Jobs

Bering Straits Native Corporation
Posted: 10/20/2014
Fort Mccoy, WI, 54656
Bering Straits Native Corporation
Posted: 10/20/2014
Las Vegas, NV, 89148
Weis Markets
Posted: 10/20/2014
Binghamton, NY, 13901
Weis Markets
Posted: 10/20/2014
Binghamton, NY, 13901
Weis Markets
Posted: 10/20/2014
Binghamton, NY, 13901

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.65.72-317
eTrustLogo