How Nurses Can Organize Tasks in the Ward

A nurse’s job is both demanding and unpredictable. You perform orders, fulfill your routine tasks, chart patient progress, and address concerns of patient’s families. You are first line to see the condition of your patients. You never know what kinds of cases you will meet each day and what kind of problems you will experience. It is easy to get overwhelmed by everything you have to do – but an excellent nurse will not let that stop him/her from performing her duties well.

Here are some tips to help you organize your tasks while in the ward:

Before you start any efforts on planning, it is important to know what is expected of you and with regards to your other duty-mates. Reflect on the tasks you did the past week. How many patients/ rooms do you handle? What are the usual cases assigned to you in your ward? What are the common tasks related to those conditions? In times of emergency, what are the things you can and cannot do while waiting for the doctors to arrive? Many of these things are not written down and can only be known through experience. So if you’re new to the area, ask around and seek guidance from those who have been there before you.

Once you know what to expect from your job, start creating a plan. How much time does each process take? At what frequency do you need to do them? What possible tasks can be done together? What cases should be prioritized and done first? If possible, make a checklist of all possible tasks to be done for a patient attached to his/her chart so you don’t forget when you go into the patient room. For both yours and the patient’s sake, do everything that you can in one visit to the patient instead of wasting time going back and forth to the room.

A cluttered space makes a cluttered mind. Make sure that there is a place for everything and that all personal and hospital items are properly labeled. Strategize placement of materials so that necessary items for the same tasks or cases are near together. If possible, make easy to grab “case kits” that contains all necessary items for each admission of a similar patient case. (Ex: If an asthmatic patient comes in, there is a ready box of linen, specimen cups, oxygen mask, syringes for bloodwork, etc).

The patient case checklist attached to charts is a good method of making reminders. You can also place post-its in strategic locations to help you remember things you need to do, procedural steps in carrying out an order, or a format on how to make your charts. Your smartphone can also help, but it is limited to battery life.

Majority of time lost is not due to tasks but from doing small things that add up to eat your time. Looking at social media or gossiping with coworkers for 5 minutes every 30 minutes may seem small, but eats up 1 hour 20 minutes of an 8 hour shift. Try to set a schedule for doing these things like a 15-minute scheduled break in the morning and afternoon. You’ll feel more refreshed and less burned out with a longer break anyway.

Recent researches prove that multitasking is a big no-no. It is better to do one task in its entirety then proceed to the next, you just have to know which one to prioritize. You minimize error and you will feel more accomplished afterwards. Patients will also feel better feeling their whole needs were met in one time instead of being bothered often.

Some aspects of patient care cannot be rushed. Double checking the identity of patients versus the medicine or procedure you will give them will take you 15 seconds, but will save you a lot of headache (or even losing your job) if you had it wrong. Charting vital signs and things done is also equally important because the patient’s course of treatment depends on it. Never compromise on these things.

Regardless of how much of a superman/woman you can be, you can never do everything yourself. Healthcare is a team profession. Some things can be done better, easier, and faster if done with other people. So ask for help if you need it, and offer help to those around you that do. You can also make a group effort to organize the systems in your ward so that you all follow the same system.

Use these tips to make you a more organized nurse in the ward. You’ll thank yourself for taking these extra steps to manage your time, your resources, and you sanity!


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