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Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power

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Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power

A Nurses View on Multitasking in a Hospital Setting

As a nurse in a hospital setting, you are expected to take care of 6-10 patients per shift. In this type of setting multitasking is not an option, it’s a necessity. You have medications to pass, charting to do, wounds to dress, iv’s to start, and patients to care for, and that barely scratches the surface. 
Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power
Multitasking is a skill that’s not taught in nursing school, it’s an on-the-job acquired skill.  This skill comes with experience and comfort within your job. Let’s take a look at a few ways nurses can accomplish these tasks and remain mentally stable at the same time. See, now we are multitasking already!

Make a List

In order to successfully multitask you need a list. This may seem like an outdated method but this has worked for me my entire career. No matter how organized you are mentally, with so much to accomplish and so many ever-changing situations it’s impossible to keep it all straight in your head. Take 10 minutes at the start of your shift and make a list.

List all your patients and important times that tasks are due. These tasks include medications, procedures, notes, and labs to name a few. You can add new tasks as they come up. My preferred method is a pocket-size paper list I can easily pull out when I get overwhelmed. I call this list my backup brain. I treat my list as a game. As I complete a task on my list, I mark it out. Once my list is completely marked out, I win! This is a great tool to assist you in multitasking.

Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power

Time Management

Another technique I have found helpful is to track your time. After you have established an everyday routine, track how long it takes you to accomplish specific tasks. For example, track how long it takes you to pass medications, track how long it takes you to do your charting, etc. 
Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power

Once you have determined how much time each task requires, focus on the areas that required the majority of your time. Find ways to multitask in those time-consuming areas. One example might be to empty drains and foley catheters while you are doing your start of shift assessment.

Know When to Multitask

Multitasking, in my opinion, is a wonderful talent if you know how and when to use it. I think a balance of multitasking and monotasking is a great combination of skills for a nurse to possess. Every shift, you have patients whose lives are in your hands.

I feel you should never multitask things of high importance or that are patient safety-related. Multitasking all the small odd jobs that you are required to do is a great way to save time. I would choose monotasking over attempting to multitask when it comes to things such as passing medications and administering blood transfusions. The last thing you want to do is compromise patient safety.

Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power

Take Your Breaks

Multitasking can be very effective if you have a plan and a clear mind. Have you heard the phrase slow down to speed up? In order to accomplish your daily goals, multitasking can play a large role but taking your breaks and lunches is essential. Your brain needs nutrition and downtime in order to function properly. You cannot work an entire shift and never eat or give your mind a rest. This is a recipe for burnout. 
Multi-Tasking: A Nurses Super Power
Two 15-minute breaks per shift will help you slow your mind down and as a result, you will accomplish a lot more work. Another mistake nurses can make is skipping lunch because you have too much to do. Your employer provides breaks and lunches for a reason. Productivity! Our brain relies on energy from food to function properly. If you take your 30-minute lunch and eat something nutritious and hydrate you will return to work and accomplish the same amount of work as if you skipped lunch altogether. Learning to multitask effectively and efficiently will make your nursing life much easier.
 
Article Written By Douglas Sayers RN
Capsol Team

Capsol Team

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