Tag Archives: teamwork in nursing

to teach delegation part 4 – getting “street smart” Jan 3 2014

note: be sure to click on the hyperlinks, the highlighted text. A prize awaits….

Street Smart is the goal.

My favorite definitions of Street Smart are to be found on Urban Dictionary. warning: adult language and content at times, but funny. Possibility of not politically correct. Street Smart is always contrasted with “Book Smart”

Delegation is key to NCLEX success

To teach delegation is to teach “Street Smart” skills, only they never call it that.  This series is to share with faculty colleagues my views on how to teach delegation skills.  In a final-semester-before-graduation course, sometimes the curriculum will mash together content from “Issues and Trends”  “Career Development” and “Leadership and Management” – this is a widely disparate clump of content. Add this to the idea that the students may be having “senioritis” during the second half of the semester.  Finally, students often need to be convinced that the course is relevant – they want something like ACLS or PALS or more pharmacology.

In one of the earlier blogs in this series I gave the rationale for all this emphasis on delegation, but it bears repeating.

read this carefully:

Every Nurse Practice Act includes rules of delegation which are based on the definition of nursing.

The NCLEX content is not solely determined by NCLEX corporation. it is dictated by NCSBN, which uses a sophisticated process to determine the “test plan”

NCSBN test plan says that 20% or more of the exam will be on – delegation.

NCSBN defines delegation and also publishes their own documents to support their definition. Working with Others is the main one. Every nursing students needs this!

therefore,

it makes sense to devote time in nursing school to the specific materials from NCSBN. This is not rocket science.

If your class work on “legal & ethical issues” focuses only on  such things as how not to get sued, or defining “beneficence” or “utilitarianism” – you are wasting your students’ time.  You need to focus on what the rules say.

As an aside, I think one reason that faculty go astray is that few of the nurses who actually managing a ward want to  become faculty members. they are paid too well doing what they do!

and now for today’s Pearl of Wisdom

first, as the NCSBN monograph says: The key to effective delegation is to have assertive interpersonal skills in conflict resolution. So – don’t just teach this by lecture or directed reading. Find ways to make up exercises for the students to role play.

second, when a student is new, they just focus on their own assignment, and the goal here is to develop the skills to analyze how the assignments of all the nurses mesh with each other. Predicting not just what will happen with your patient, but predicting how many nurses will be needed by the unit overall. Figuring out how to work together as a team, how to help each other.

Too often this is taught by just assigning  the student to multiple patients, and watching them flounder around – “sink or swim.”  I guess some students will only start to pay attention when they see that they are not as good as they think they are – but a better way is to teach all the stuff I am listing here.

Friday Night at the E.R.

all this leads me to the subject of today’s blog. Friday Night at the E.R. is a resource for nursing students, and I think every nursing student should play it, especially if they are thinking of a hospital career. I see that for January 2014 the company that makes and sells it, has upgraded the game board a bit to make it easier to play.

An Excellent Simulation Learning exercise

we tend to define simulation learning narrowly these days, as if it can only be done with a high-fidelity manikin and a room with a two-way mirror. That is an artificial constraint IMHO.

FNER was developed as an interactive game to teach teamwork and decisionmaking, not necessarily limited to nurses. It is used by people interested in Organizational Development. It is a board game with a gazillion small parts. It’s expensive but worth it IMHO. It does have complicated directions and requires a facilitator who knows what it is about. (the company has a policy of only selling it to people or agencies that have a registered facilitator.) if you are going to use it, you need to carefully manage the logistics of it – for example, if you have a class of thirty students you need eight game boards. for a class of sixty you may need to have half the group do it one week, the other half the next. You need to schedule extra time – it can not be done in just three hours – the debriefing is as important as the game itself. Simply critical to debrief.

The most important thing about this simulation game, is that the students learns things about their own problemsolving, which is a reason why the makers of the game are a bit vague about the exact conduct of it. I went to YouTube to see if there was anything there that might entice you to seek further information.  I found a gem in which the professor seems to be trying to teach the students “the right way” to do it prior to playing – the exact opposite of it’s intended lesson. And better yet – it’s in French!

If you buy the game, you do get a DVD that tells a lot more. The idea behind that strategy is to allow the students to discover certain things for themselves and not over-teach.

Achieving Street Smarts?

When I have done the Friday Night at the ER  exercise with students, they come back to class after a week or two and tell me that up until then they did not know what the manager of their unit, or the house supervisor, actually did during a work day. “Didn’t have a clue” they say.

But now their eyes are opened and they see their own role as part of the larger team.  They are more focused on admission/transfer/discharge. They have a better sense of their own “agency” – ability to shape their destiny. They are more able to describe the parameters of problemsolving. all kinds of good stuff like that.

I would love to hear from others who have used this…..

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Filed under NCLEX, Nurses Brain, nursing education, Uncategorized

part 2: The Nurses “Brain” – how to bring your “A Game” to clinical

read part one first. That was among my most popular entries ever. If you are finding this useful, your fellow students probably will too – why not share it with them? It’s part of a series of blogs on the current nursing scene, especially for new nurses and nursing students. I also invite you to  subscribe!

“What we Have here, is a failure to communicate…..”

There are a few common scenarios in nursing education. These take place at clinical.

a) at the end of the clinical day the instructor is making rounds after the students have left, and one staff nurse says “your student in rm 438 did not give a bath, did not report the vital signs, and omitted a med that was due at noon” (this always puts the faculty on the defensive, in case you wanna know)

b) the teacher and the student are lined up at the med cart about to give a heart pill, and the student did not check the Apical Pulse or take the Blood Pressure. Or maybe it’s a stool softener and the student has no idea when the last time the patient moved their bowels. or maybe it’s lasix and the student doesn’t know what the K+ was.

c) the student takes report from the night nurse, but doesn’t write anything down and can’t recall what was said when the faculty asks what the night nurse had to say about the patient.

I can think of more; but what I want you to ask yourself right now is, have any of them happened to you?

The reaction to all of the above, is to pass the feedback along to the student, and maybe to put the student on a written warning, which is logical. After all, we’re about doing our best, here. If the student gets enough written warnings, they learn to be afraid of making a mistake, (which is good); but they also learn to dislike clinical, (which is bad. clinical is the reason we are here). And the faculty wonders why this happens over and over again…….  a new faculty person is also on a learning curve, and when you are new at teaching, y0u may not have the tools to develop a better approach. It’s easy to blame the students….

Pro-Active? or Re-Active?

Simply dumping on the student is usually a sign of a faculty member who did not see the value of teaching organizational skills to their crew. It’s the easy way out – a way for the faculty to shift blame. It’s Re-active – closing the barn door after the horse has left. Both the student and the faculty will benefit from a pro-active approach – oh, and so will the patient :-)

You may find this difficult to believe, but to use a Road Map, also known as the Nurses Brain, is a pro-active tool in preventing all of these things from occurring. There is no situation so chaotic that a Brain can’t bring some order when it is applied.

Part One dealt with how to set up a Brain.

I got a terrific reply to Part One  from Dan Keller, a nurse who has a Blog Site Titled Nurses Get it Done. Dan was very humble about his site, but I was happy to find it. Go there, and you can find more examples of a Nurse’s Brain. He also has info about an iPhone app that can be used to keep track of all the little pile of details that a nurse has to deal with.

So – how to become pro-active vs Re-active?

For me as a faculty, I require that the student bring a Road Map to clinical and show it at the beginning of the clinical day. Every time I speak with that student during the day, we pull it out and go over it. Every time a staff nurse gives report, the student also writes down every tidbit of data that has been shared, and the student has to determine whether a followup response is required.

I got another email from a nurse who said she wants to make sure the student can name what’s going on with their patient “and that’s the most important.”  Fair enough. She probably works with seniors; and also,  when you make a Road Map every day, you can add reminders to yourself to schedule an actual time to physically assess the most important feautures of your patient’s illness event. In addition to the Road Map, we also require a Concept Map, an eight-column medication form etc – if I made it sound like we didn’t, or that I never bring up the more sophisticated concepts of patho, don’t worry – we do those things.  The time to start using a Brain is Fundamentals – from the beginning of hospital practice.

Accountability

One of the mantras is: ” we don’t have to do every single thing we planned out for the Road Map, but if we can’t, our responsibility is to tell the staff nurse with sufficient time so that they can do it before it’s too late”

If the whole crew is using a road map, it allows the clinical groups to create synergy, and help each other by scheduling some tasks for the larger group – such as doing incontinence care for a 400-lb helpless patient, for example, which would require more than just one person. I worked at a 400-bed hospital in Bangor, Maine, where the nursing crew routinely delivered care for  patients with life-threatening morbid obesity – that group of nurses were a marvel of teamwork. This eliminates a lot of mini-crisis from the day.

Buying the morning paper?

The next thing that can happen with a well-planned Road Map is effective chaining of tasks. Now, women are much better at chaining tasks than guys are ( hate to sound sexist and I don’t know why this is the case, but I think it’s true). True story: if I was going to get the morning paper from the corner store, I would go and get it. But, if I mentioned to  my wife I was going down the street for that purpose,  she would say “Oh, and we also need toilet paper and would you get some bread and milk too?”  My wife was also a nurse. Nurses become excellent at “chaining” tasks.

Chaining….

an example of chaining for the Road Map would take place after you observed that it was an hour after breakfast and  your patient was incontinent of stool.  Obviously, you are going to help them with personal hygiene; so you might as well do their whole bath at that time, and you will bring in the supplies to do a sacral dressing change if they have a sacral wound, and you can also check their heels at the same time, do range-of-motion and repositionthem. six tasks with just one trip into the room.

The Checklist Manifesto

We are on a quest for excellence in nursing, not just personal excellence but excellent patient outcomes in team care. And I can’t speak highly enough of the books by Atul Gawande, MD.   His book, the Checklist Manifesto, is about the ways that teams improve, and he has lots of practical examples and a great way to express how to approach the idea of improving your practice day-to-day.

I can’t really add much beyond what the reviews have already said, but here is a start, from Amazon.

Amazon Exclusive: Malcolm Gladwell Reviews The Checklist Manifesto
Malcolm Gladwell was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2005. He is most recently the author of What the Dog Saw (a collection of his writing from The New Yorker) as well as the New York Times bestsellers Outliers, The Tipping Point, and Blink. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Checklist Manifesto:

Over the past decade, through his writing in The New Yorker magazine and his books Complications and Better, Atul Gawande has made a name for himself as a writer of exquisitely crafted meditations on the problems and challenges of modern medicine. His latest book, The Checklist Manifesto, begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world–and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking.

Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it’s just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality. Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success.

The danger, in a review as short as this, is that it makes Gawande’s book seem narrow in focus or prosaic in its conclusions. It is neither. Gawande is a gorgeous writer and storyteller, and the aims of this book are ambitious. Gawande thinks that the modern world requires us to revisit what we mean by expertise: that experts need help, and that progress depends on experts having the humility to concede that they need help. –Malcolm Gladwell

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How to avoid the Nursing Work Culture From Hell

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Culture at the workplace?

A workplace becomes a surrogate family for the people who spend time there. When people spend so much time together, the personalities come out. A group will adopt a set of informal rules that guide each day. This becomes “workplace culture.”

If you have been a nurse for any length of time, you develop a sixth sense for this. The minute you walk on to the patient care area, you get a vibe of what it’s like there.  It may be calm and peaceful, it may be chaos, it can be happy or tense. It can be this way independently of how much nursing care the patients require. When you interview for a nursing job, be advised: the best managers know about workplace culture, and they are looking to add staff who will value it and honor it. A theme of this blog has been to encourage new nurses to live up to their caring potential, and it includes caring for those around them as well as for the patients.

Urban Community Hospital – a “war story”

My first nursing job was not a place for teamwork. It was an “urban community hospital”  and chronically understaffed. Each shift was a contest to see whether you could get through all the work yourself, and the assignment was heavy. It was a trauma ward, lots of gunshot wounds and stabbings and victims of beatings, along with a population of heroin addicts and homeless persons. Lots of crime victims. The staff consisted of a head nurse who had worked there since the dawn of time, and each spring there was a fresh crop of new graduate RNs. The hospital would hire a batch of new grads all at once, they would stay a year, then leave once they got “the golden year” of hospital experience. Or at least they were planning to leave then; most left my particular unit before hand, chewed up by the system of unsupportive coworkers. The crew of nurses aides were all older than the young RNs.

Walking Rounds

We did “walking rounds” there, change-of-shift report consisted of a procession of sorts, all the nurses in a group  following the kardex from bed to bed like it was the Bible at the beginning of Mass. The circus was led by the head nurse, same age as my mother. She generally arrived each morning with an attitude, and would heavily criticise the night nurse, pouncing on any inconsistency she found between the way the patient looked and what was written in the kardex; or how the story was presented.  Very theatrical. As report was read, she would examine each patient (“you said the IV was NS w 40 of K, why is it I see a bag of LR hanging?”) This included getting on her hands and knees to look under the bed, on occasion, as well as barbed sarcasm. Every day.  One day she chased a rat out of the ward, to the cheers of the rest of us…. but that is a whole nother story ( it was a very large and well fed rat). Yes, she was teaching us how to have standards and to follow them; but nowadays we would call her approach “horizontal violence’ or “verbal abuse” or “eating the young.”  That was the way it was in that time and place.

These days there is a national movement toward something called “Magnet Culture” – hopefully to eradicate that sort of approach. UPDATE: a former student emailed me after reading this, to alert me to some excellent work published by Sigma Theta Tau about Bullying in the Nursing Workplace.

New RN working nights

I was on eight-hour shifts, a day night rotation and soon found myself working nights about eighty percent of the time – the only time I was on days was on the head nurse’s weekend off.  The day I passed my Boards I was Charge RN whenever I showed up from then on. That was how I spent my first year as an RN. Since I was on nights so much, it meant that I got to be the person going through the gauntlet every morning. And yes, I did well at it – better than the others. In those days I could be just as sarcastic and unforgiving as others. I would spit it right back at the head nurse, to the astonishment of other first-year RNs on the crew.

I no longer treat others that way.

The usual night staffing was two RNs for up to thirty patients, and even then, I went out of my way to help the other RN be ready, which was appreciated. I promised myself I would never be the kind of nurse manager  that I was now working for, and that if I ever had anything to do with it, I would be kind and respectful.

In other words, it was the Work Culture from Hell. Got the picture? I can go on and on – you got me started, but like a bad dream, I need to wake up and remember that this degree of dysfunction is not the way to go through life. Let’s focus on positive ways to interact, here.

Teaching workgroup culture. learn it and live it.

What I do now is to incorporate healthy work behaviors into nursing school. Nursing school is not simply to learn about patient care; it’s to learn the way a professional person acts and thinks. Sometimes in the Fundamentals lab, a student acts as though the only thing they are there to accomplish  is to learn how to perform a specific skill according to the checklist. They don’t care whether others also learn, and don’t help their classmates or spend time coaching somebody slower to grasp the concept. Somehow there is a subset of students who think it’s okay to be a jerk to those around them while they focus on their own learning needs. This may work for Jack Sparrow, but will not lead to success in a hospital workplace.

This tells me that such a student has a learning opportunity.  Focusing on yourself is not the way to go through life. You are missing a major part of the ride.

(Note: a few years back I developed a one-page handout for how to act in the nursing school lab which I will send to anybody who emails me and asks for it)

How to Succeed as a team

Want to develop the habits of a helpful work group culture? here are some ideas. They are not a “Code” – more like Guidelines.

In both lab and clinical: Your work is not finished until the work of everybody is finished. Nobody sits down until everybody is able to sit down. If one person is getting swamped, we pitch in and help them. In the lab, it’s the students and faculty together, who tidy up and make the lab ready for the next group of students. Don’t rely on somebody else to clean up after you.

In the clinical setting: learn about  each other’s patients. Depending on how morning report is handled, this can be a challenge. If it’s a group report that’s easy; but if it is nurse-to-nurse report, you have to go out of your way to do this.  Find a way to check in with the other staff nurses (or the other students) after an hour or so.

Nobody lifts or transfers any patient by themselves.  There is a strong evidence-base out there regarding nurses and prevention of back injuries, so we have an important reason for this. Some wards have many “heavy” patients, and this attitude makes a big difference. But it’s also a chance to create and strengthen relationships among the staff.

say thank you. this goes a long way. there’s an old saying that “People may forget what you did or said but they won’t forget how you made them feel.” think about it.

use names. there is a parade of people through every hospital area every day. Learn who they are, and use their name in conversation.  You don’t have to go to Happy Hour with them or learn their kids’ names, but why not humanize the workplace? this includes housekeeping, the docs – everyone.

name tags. Ever been in a college class where the professor never learned your name, even by the end of the semester?  At my nursing school, we teach the same course to a different cohort each semester, there are fiftysix or sixty new names to learn. On the first day I always set up a system of using name tags, keeping them at the lab. The students collect at the end of each session. We call each of the students by name. They are not allowed to melt into the woodwork, which is often a surprise for the students.

just like a basketball team
Huddle. this picture was taken in Nepal, but any of my students will recognize this gesture. When I wave my hand at waist  level, they know that I want them to approach. I never have to raise my voice when calling them over. (and yes, they know i will not bite…) At lab and clinical practice,  I call a huddle every now and again. soon the students learn to call their own huddles without me.  Communication is a big part of teamwork. We use the time to share and to plan out our work and get ideas.

The Bottom Line about workgroups

The fact is, we all have a choice to create a healthy work culture, or not. which will you choose?

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Filed under classroom management, nursing education, Nursing in Hawaii