I began my career in the Neurosurgical ICU at a large Level I Trauma Hospital in Dallas – FW.
I can still vividly remember my first night on the unit. I was terrified. But I was filled with a (bad) sense of hubris. I had done well in my Second Degree BSN program and felt that I could catch on well to anything that was thrown at me.
Opps . . .
Real life nursing is a freaking slap in the face to what I had been exposed to as a student. . . . we won’t get into that too much here . . . today I just want to share with you how I learned to give stellar reports in the intensive care unit.
Giving Hand-Off Report in the ICU
Luckily, I had an amazing preceptor. During the first few shifts she sat closely behind my shoulder to monitor where my skills and knowledge base were currently at, acting as a resource as needed.
After our long first shift . . . where I quickly realized how little I actually knew about nursing in the real world . . . we did a quick debriefing together. She said that her goal was to have me become a master of giving hand-off report. With that she gave me a report sheet template that has become my go-to.
Now years later I still require new nurses and nursing students to fill that same ICU report sheet out as the shift goes on and prior to giving report to the on coming nurse.
Those nurses that latch on to this method for giving report become masters of the nursing shift report. Here is the template that we use:
You can download this report sheet template for free:
How to Give an ICU Handoff Report
This report sheet is designed specifically for critical care nurses but it would work in any nursing setting. Here are the steps to a great ICU handoff report:
- Know your patient and their history
- Go through body systems ( head to skin)
- What is the plan
- What are the family dynamics
This is really all that you need to do to give an amazing report . . . and you need to do it in this order. The problem many nurses run into is that there is SO MUCH to know and to keep straight and they don’t have or stick to a basic format before they open their mouth and start talking.
Many experienced nurses struggle with this as well. Nothing helps you start your shift on the right foot like getting an organized report . . . and an organized report really comes down to knowing the basics . . . and having a method or pattern that you stick to.
That is exactly what this template provides you with . . . a system to help extract all the information that you need to provide for the oncoming nurse.
I want you to download this chart and begin to use it immediately in your clinicals. . .
What tools and references are you using to give killer hand off reports in the ICU? Tell me below.