This situation probably sounds familiar — and it probably happens more frequently than it should.
While you can’t control what happens before you clock in, you can make a difference for the nurse after you. Here are five things you can do to make work easier for the next nurse:
Administer pain medications a little early
Before your shift ends, visit all of your patients and check when their next dosage of pain medication is due. If John should have his next pills at 7 a.m., it’s better to give him the medicine 15 minutes early so it’s not 45 minutes late.
The new nurse who starts work after you has to complete a new assessment before giving a patient pain medication — which means he could be upset and in pain by the time he finally sees him or her.
Stay a few days ahead wherever possible
If you work with long-term patients, prepare profiles, charts, cardiac clearances, labs, consents and blood arrangements (if needed) a few days in advance instead of just for the following day. This makes it much easier for the next nurse, and you are more organized and less stressed as well.
Take care of immediate patient needs
Make sure your patients have had a chance to use the restroom, have enough fluid in their IV bags for a few hours and have snacks, pillows or blankets if they need them. It may take some time for the new nurse to assess patients; this ensures they are comfortable for a while.
Do all documentation as soon as you can
Charting is time-consuming and probably the most frustrating part of your day. Try to document your first assessments during the first two hours of your shift. If you wait until the end of the shift to write everything down, you will forget things and it will take much longer. You’ll also feel rushed because the next nurse is about to start.
Take advantage of whiteboards in patients’ rooms and write down medications you administered and vital signs so you can record them later and easily find them. If your patient’s room has a computer, do your charting while he or she is taking medication. This way, you have everything recorded immediately — and accurately.
Give the next nurse a helpful report
Once you’ve checked on all of your patients at the end of your shift, give the nurse who’s relieving you an accurate patient report. Think of the acronym SBAR — situation, background, assessment and recommendations — and focus on what will help the nurse most as he or she takes care of that patient.
Think about what went well and what didn’t during the shift, and tell the nurse what you think will most likely happen during hers. The next nurse may have some challenging patients, but he or she will be grateful you prepared her for the next 12 hours.
Following these suggestions when you take travel nursing jobs can help you ensure the nurse who works after you has a smoother shift. She might learn from your example and pay it forward, too! What do you wish coworkers would take care of before you start work?