Top 5 Tips to Stay Organized as a New Nurse
Being a new nurse may feel overwhelming no matter how much you have prepared yourself. There are approximately 2,400,000 registered nurses in the United States, and around 155,000 new nurses graduate every year. Nurses are in high demand, and patient ratios can range anywhere between 1:1 in critical care to 60:1 in long-term care.
Your shift can move quickly and be interrupted and changed throughout the day. This is why it is essential to stay organized as a new nurse and be ahead of the game.
Tip #1- Start Your Shift with a Chart Review
One of the most important things you can do to stay organized as a new nurse working at the bedside is to start your shift by reviewing the patient's chart before seeing them. This is crucial as you can find laboratory results, medication times, and doctors' notes to give you a clear picture of what is happening with your patient.
Tip #2- Use Report Sheets
Also known as a "brain" for some nurses, report sheets are paper notes you have that describe your objectives for the day for each patient. Use your report sheet to make notes from the nurse you are taking over.
Write down what you learned from your chart review by making notes of the medications, a list of doctors, laboratory results, pertinent history, and exam information. Keeping this report sheet with you will help you stay organized as a new nurse.
Tip #3- Plan Out Your Day
Planning out your day by the hour will help you really help you stay on top of things. Write down your patient's medication times, assessment times, laboratory times, and anything due at a particular time. This could even include meals, glucose checks, Foley care, PIV hourly checks, and other ADLs. Make a list of hourly times and in each time slot, write down what needs to be done in that hour. This will keep you on task so nothing will be forgotten. Helpful hint: Some report sheets will even have these!
Tip #4- Prioritize Your Shift
No matter how hard you try, something will happen in your day to cause your plan to be disrupted. Prioritizing tasks is one of the things that new grads struggle with the most. When something changes your plan for the day, try to reorganize to accommodate.
Hopefully, you have already planned out your day and need to rearrange to make room for something else. Look at your list and see where is the best time to perform the task. How important is this task, is it an emergency, or can it wait? Can you bundle care and include it during another assessment or medication time?
Tip #5- Stay on Top of Things
Staying organized will help you succeed as a new grad nurse. Organize times for yourself to chart if you cannot chart as you go. Make sure to stock your pockets with all the essentials you need throughout your day and keep items in the same pockets. It can be stressful to find your pens in one of six pockets when trying to take an order or write down useful information.
It will also be helpful to use check boxes on your report sheet to mark tasks off as you go. This will keep you on track and able to navigate your day efficiently.
>> Related: The Top Skills New Nurses Need
These tips will help you stay organized as a new grad nurse when working in a bedside environment. There are several different ways to organize your day and manage your time efficiently. It can take time to figure out what works best for you and that may even change every shift. Consider speaking to your preceptor or senior staff nurses to find out how they keep their shifts organized. It might help you figure out a way to be even more efficient at the bedside.
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