02.06 Prioritization

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Study Tools



  1. Prioritization
    1. Meaning
    2. People to consider
    3. Urgent
    4. Important
    5. Save for last
    6. How to prioritize
    7. New patients

Nursing Points


  1. Meaning
    1. Arranging plans in order
    2. Most important to least
    3. Necessary for managing time
  2. People to consider
    1. Your patients
    2. Physicians
    3. Yourself
  3. Urgent
    1. What needs done NOW
    2. Who to see first
    3. Life or death
      1. Codes
      2. Breathing issues
      3. Low blood sugar
      4. Chest pain
      5. New abnormal telemetry readings or flatline
  4. Important
    1. Pain
    2. Assessments
    3. Scheduled procedures
    4. Scheduled medications
  5. Save for last
    1. Wound dressings
    2. Showers
    3. Walks
    4. Admission history
    5. Discharge paperwork
  6. How to prioritize
    1. Use critical thinking
      1. Safety first
      2. Scheduled next
      3. Other tasks last
      4. Consider patient’s dianosis and history
    2. Make your plan
      1. Write down
      2. Include your break
    3. Delegate when necessary
    4. Keep moving
    5. Adjust as needed
      1. Check results ->labs, procedures
      2. Assess patient
      3. Pain
  7. New patients
    1. Assess patient
    2. Fill needs
      1. Hunger & thirst
      2. Temperature
      3. Comfort
    3. Your tasks
      1. Med rec
      2. History questions
      3. Med administration

Nursing Concepts

  1. Safety
    1. Prioritizing safety of patients
  2. Prioritization
    1. Prioritizing according to most important to least
  3. Clinical Judgement
    1. Using clinical judgement to make plan with prioritization


Hey guys! Welcome to the lesson about prioritization. Let’s begin by talking about what prioritization is. 

Prioritization involves arranging plans in order from most important to least. Prioritization is necessary for managing your time properly. Next let’s talk about different people to consider while prioritizing. 

While prioritizing, you need to consider your patients. This includes what they need and what they want. Physicians are important as well as you should try to plan around what they might need to do their job as well. An example is when I get a new admit, I try to get the med rec done before my other charting so that the doctor can go through it. And of course, you need to consider yourself. Take care of your needs throughout your shift such as using the bathroom, eating, and resting. Okay, next let’s talk about urgency. 

So while you are prioritizing, think about what needs to be done NOW. You will use your critical thinking and nursing judgment to decide which Patient to see first, second, and so on. Prioritize life or death situations such as codes, breathing issues, low blood sugar, chest pain, or new abnormal telemetry readings. For example, if telemetry shows that your patient is flatlining, you need to stop what you’re doing and get in that room immediately. Now let’s move on to what is important, but not urgent. 

Some things are important like patient pain levels, but they can be done after the urgent tasks. Other examples include assessments, scheduled procedures, and scheduled medications. Now let’s talk about what you can save for last on your list. 

After you complete all urgent and important tasks, you may move on to these other tasks such as wound dressings, showers, walks, admission histories, or discharge paperwork. You might be thinking, well aren’t’ these things important too? Well yes, they are, but just not as important as the previous tasks we discussed. Got extra time? Fit these tasks in. Next let’s discuss how to prioritize. 

So how can you prioritize? Use your critical thinking. Make sure you always put safety first, scheduled tasks next, and other tasks can be saved for last. Also, I want you to consider your patient’s diagnosis and history in decisions that you make. So make your plan by writing it down. Make sure to include your break in that plan. Delegate to others when necessary to help stay in line with prioritization. Keep moving, you got this. Adjust your plan when needed. Check your patients’ results such as labs and procedures throughout your shift to see if there are any changes that need to be addressed or called in to the doctor. You can visually assess your patient every time your in the room. Pain can come up anytime, so when your patient complains of pain that requires medication, try to fit it in your plan. If your urgent tasks are done, go grab their pain meds. Let’s talk about how to prioritize your time and tasks with new patients. 

So when you get a new patient, you should always assess them first. This is how you can ensure that there isn’t anything urgent that needs addressing. Be patient oriented, not task oriented. Next, fill your patient’s needs. Guys, when I was a new nurse I would try to get all my admission tasks done as soon as possible. The results were cranky patients that felt like I didn’t care. I’ve learned to ask them if they’re hungry or thirsty. Adjust the temperature in the room for them. Ask them if they’re comfortable. If they have orders in, get them what you can. If not, let them know that you will get them what they need as soon as those orders come through. After your patient is taken care of, you can begin your tasks. This includes the med rec, history questions, and any medications that need given. 

Alright guys, let’s review the key points about prioritization. Prioritization is planning according to what is most important to what is least important. You should consider your patients, the physicians, and yourself in your planning. Prioritize urgent tasks like breathing issues first, important tasks like pain or medication administration next, and least important tasks like wound dressings last. Prioritize effectively by using your critical thinking and adjusting the plan as needed based on what comes up. When you get new admits, always assess first, fill your patient’s needs next, and complete your tasks last. 

Okay guys, now go out and be your best self today, and as always, happy nursing!