Nursing Student
New Grad

4 Steps to Nursing Delegation

Delegation is tricky subject in nursing school.  While it’s presented in a black and white, very straightforward manner in the classroom… the way it plays out in the clinical environment is different.  You may not be sure who can do what, you may not know how to communicate delegation effectively, or you just may be too intimidated to delegate.  Here are some practical delegation tips for nursing students.

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1. Know your resources

If you’re not sure about which tasks can be delegated, know where to look this information up.  The specific hospital may have a policy you can review, or you can check out your state board of nursing’s website.  We won’t go into specifics here, because that can change. However, it’s really important – regardless of location – to know that the person you’re delegating the task to is competent.  This means that they have the appropriate competencies signed off to verify that they can safely perform the task.  I’ve been at facilities in which some CNA’s could perform phlebotomy or insert foley catheters, while others could not.

2. Build rapport

I don’t know about you, but if I meet someone and they don’t show any interest in knowing me at all and immediately starts barking orders at me, my feathers get a little ruffled.

Introduce yourself to your support staff… show that you care about getting to know them. Ask to shadow them, if time allows. Show them that you value their expertise (yes, CNA’s are experts in what they do – their knowledge is valuable to you as a nursing student).  Earn their trust.  Ask them what they think about delegation and what they like and don’t like… learn from the mistakes of others.

3. Communicate clearly and respectfully

Sometimes we try to communicate something, but people don’t always hear what we say.  It’s a recipe for disaster if you just say something like, “Hey go discontinue the foley in bed 4!” as you’re walking by, heading to lunch.  Go up to the person; let them know that Mr. Smith in bed 4 needs his foley discontinued.  Show them the order in the chart, and let them know that the sooner we get this removed, and the sooner he pees, the sooner he can be discharged.  Be detailed and give the appropriate information, show them the order, and let them know how soon it needs to be done and …

4. Don’t forget to follow up

Just because you’ve delegated something doesn’t mean you relinquish all responsibility.  You both share responsibility, as the person delegating the task and the person to whom the task was delegated.  So, if you asked a CNA to get a blood pressure on a patient and they forgot – and so did you – it’s not entirely their fault if you noticed it was never done 6 hours later.   Make sure you’re checking to ensure the task was completed.

People tend to avoid conversations that are uncomfortable, which can happen when getting used to delegating.  Take these conversations head-on and rip the bandaid.. they will get easier!  You are learning how to be a leader – the leader of the health care team, and it can take some time to get comfortable in that role.

And don’t forget to check out our awesome master post about time management!  We have a ton of great resources at our Academy at as well!


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