The Importance of Delegation

In my Nursing Roles class, I was given the assignment of answering this question: As a student, you have had tasks delegated to you. Identify how delegation has changed in regards to your learning and level of skills as you have progressed through your program.

Here are my thoughts on that:

As a Patient Care Tech on a busy cardiac telemetry floor of a local hospital and a nursing student at SPC, I’ve become accustomed to having tasks delegated to me. I strive to complete as much as possible for the patient, which in turn helps the busy nurses I work with. In my proactive approach, there isn’t a lot of delegation needed. Nonetheless, I do get calls for help. I don’t mind it. Actually, sometimes it’s easier to take on the role of the person receiving delegation tasks then to be the one delegating, and this I know from my experience as a nursing student.

I must say, it’s not easy for me to delegate tasks. There are a few reasons for this hang up I have. One, I want to know the job is done right, and that it’s been done. Sometimes it’s easier for me to just do it. It’s similar to the problem I have at home, when I would rather spend 2 hours cleaning my daughters rooms, because I know I’ll get all corners and crevices, as opposed to giving my daughters the opportunity to take responsibility for their environment. I know there will be shoes shoved in places they don’t belong, or stuffed closets. It’s easier for me to do it, but is it better? No! Nursing assistants/tech’s are thoughtfully put in place to help the nurse, that’s how they get paid. I have found that many really love their job, and working with a tech or assistant like this, is like finding a pot of gold when shift time starts. These assistants are valuable and crucial to a smooth workday. Nurses couldn’t do it without the help from assistants/techs, and I know this because I currently work as a tech.

Secondly, I have trouble delegating tasks to tech’s because of my nature…my personality. By nature, I have not been known to be a leader, although with passing years, I have become better at taking on this valuable character trait. I’ve been known to be a people pleaser, and so sometimes I don’t ask in fear that I’ll appear bossy or like the nurse who “thinks she’s better and can’t wipe poop”. Like I said though, I have become better at this trait, and I realize that I have to call for help. I have to. The nurse has so much to accomplish in a day. Nurses care for their (sometimes 6) patient’s holistically, chart, give meds in a timely manner, chart, call doctor’s and wait for return calls, change wound dressings, chart, coordinate care with other interdisciplinary professions such at PT and OT, chart, talk with sad family members, chart, assist in a code (that can take them away for an hour or more), chart, hold the hand of the scared patient, chart, help the soiled and uncomfortable patient get cleaned up (because tech is very busy), chart, run for blood and then hang it, obtain signed consent forms, and did I mention nurses chart a lot. You get the picture. Nurses need to be able to delegate, and I’m learning this technique through nursing school.

The misconception that I feel some tech’s have of nurses, is that the nurse could just take 2 more minutes and do a specific task themselves, because he/she is just standing there at the computer anyway. This is not true. There are always things to be done and loads of charting. Two more minutes may not seem much but it’s huge, and it’s never just 2 minutes. On the other hand, if an assistant is truly  unavailable, then it’s not right for the nurse to leave a patient in a position of discomfort, having to urinate but not making it in time because the nurse doesn’t have time to help. Nurses and tech’s work together.

Delegation of tasks is not an easy task. It takes a good nurse to master the ability to delegate. Being able to delegate when needed means that the patient in the room next door will get his/her pain meds sooner, instead of having to wait and then never feeling relief because the pain got too high while waiting for the medication. Delegation helps the nurse get to important tasks on time. It allows the nurse to hang the blood on time, for the patient who really needs it, as opposed to hanging it too late and now this poor patient is in shock. Delegation allows the nurse to get to the task of administering insulin to the patient who needs it in a timely manner. It allows the nurse to have time to get into the room across the hall and notice that his/her patient is tanking. It also allows the nurse to leave the hospital at 8 pm, as opposed to 9:30 pm.

Delegation or the lack of, could mean life or death for a patient as well, and the nurse is ultimately responsible for his/her patient’s at the end of the day. Family members won’t care that you couldn’t get to their loved one in time because you were too busy and couldn’t delegate a less important task. Nurses have a huge responsibility and lives to care for, and they must be able to delegate, because it could mean quicker or slower hospital times for a patient or worse yet, life or death for a patient. Delegation is key and after writing this, I’m even clearer with my thoughts on delegation. I know this trait of being able to delegate, is one I have to perfect as a new nurse.

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