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Five Tips to Help Nurses Delegate Effectively

Career News May 10, 2013

It is necessary to delegate tasks in nursing to ensure productivity, care of the patients, training and cooperation. Most nurses avoid delegating tasks because they feel it is easier to do the work themselves. Others find it uncomfortable to take the responsibility of the work of another and prefer not to delegate. These are a few of the issues associated with nurse delegation.

How a nurse delegates tasks will determine how effectively it will be carried out. The important thing for nurses in authority to remember is that they must trust their colleagues and ensure they delegate the right task to the right person. They should also delegate according to the legalities of practice for the different types of health care providers they supervise.

Delegation for Training Purposes

Team leaders delegate tasks to other members of the team. Simply asking a nursing assistant or an LPN to do something is an example of delegation. When it is carried out this way, it is not as intimidating and leads to the development of trust among the members of the nursing team. Nurses who may be reluctant to ask others for help would be more likely to do so in this type of situation. Delegating tasks to others is a skill that nurses need because it helps strengthen training and skills in others.

If delegation is to be effective, tasks should be assigned to nurses who are qualified and capable of completing them. When staffs do not have the proper training to do certain tasks, then this affects the quality care of the patient as well as causing problems between the nurse and the supervisor. At the same time, impeding a nurse from trying new things hinders their learning and growth in the position. It can also lead to nurses leaving to work elsewhere.

Fair Delegation

Tasks must be assigned in a fair manner. It is not right to show favoritism by giving the same person the easiest or best assignments and giving the tasks no one wants to someone else. Such action will lead distrust in the supervisor and makes for uncomfortable working conditions.

Nurse supervisors also have to be fair in the way in which they distribute the work between the members of the team and what they do themselves. A person should not give the harder tasks to the rest of the staff and keep the easier ones. It also applies to the time periods for breaks and lunch.

Delegation within Jobs

Situations do arise when nurses delegate tasks to unqualified staff. It does not matter whether or not the staff member knows how to do the work because without having the certification and licensing, they are still not permitted to undertake anything that is not in their job description. A task that falls within the duties of an RN has to be performed by an RN. The supervisor or the employer may know that this person is perfectly capable of doing the task well, but this will be going against company’s policy. Asking a person to do something like this is another way of destroying trust among the staff and could lead to disciplinary action.

Get to Know the Staff

Effective delegation rests on being able to get along with others. Nurses need to have exceptional interpersonal skills. When RN’s know their nurses, they will be able to delegate. It is quite possible that the most experienced nurse is not the right one for a specific task. By knowing the staff, an RN can quickly make a decision for delegation. Strengths and weaknesses that make delegation easy are not on a resume.

The opposite is also true. Nursing assistants and LPN’s who know the RN’s will be able to anticipate what needs to be done. They will ask for help when there is something they do not know how to do.

Thorough Explanations and Availability

When RN’s are able to delegate effectively, they must ensure that they are explaining what they want completed thoroughly. Nurses need all of the accurate information to carry out the task, which is why the supervisor has to discuss everything they know about the situation. The RN is always accountable for completion of the task. These guidelines ensure proper delegation among nurses.

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