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How can I help my new nurses multitask and focus on communicating with our patients effectively?

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By its nature, nursing involves a tremendous amount of multitasking. Your nurses will sometimes assess the color and quantity of urine in the Foley catheter, while hanging an IV, talking to patients, and trying to listen for a physician they just paged. Being attentive to a patient these days is challenging for even the most experienced of nurses. Here are some tips you can relay to your nurses that they can practice every time they enter a patient's room:

  • Jot down as much as you possibly can in your notes. Don't try to keep a "to-do" list in your head (especially the little things, such as replacing a box of tissues). Trying to remember everything will take your attention away from everyone.
  • Stop at the doorway and take two or three long, deep breaths.
  • Be keenly aware. The most important communication happens within the first minute of walking into a patient's roomwhether anyone speaks or not.
  • Before you speak, look patients directly in the eye and touch them lightly on the hand or legor touch the bed covers (depending on your comfort level and the patient's receptiveness).
  • Communication is primarily nonverbal. What does the patient's body position tell you? What would you feel like if you were in that position?

—Kathleen Bartholomew, RC, RN, MN