Nurses are getting tired, burning out, and leaving their jobs. This might be a call for help to change how things are run around healthcare facilities.
As an employer, one of your responsibilities is to support and empower your registered nurses to care for their patients as best as possible. One of the things you can do is to encourage delegation. Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding What Nursing Delegation is
When nurses have full schedules and more patients are in need of assistance than they can manage, delegation is one solution to the situation. Delegation is the process of a nurse directing another member of the healthcare team such as a licensed practical nurse, or certified nursing assistant to perform nursing tasks and activities.
It involves at least two individuals: the nurse delegator, who distributes a portion of their patient care work, and the delegatee, who takes over the assigned tasks. Together, they work harmoniously to provide comprehensive and attentive healthcare.
Important Elements of Delegation to Observe
To successfully delegate, there are three qualities that must be observed by the delegator and the delegatee.
Registered nurses have a responsibility to perform tasks related to patient care reliably and dependably based on their individual state’s nursing practice acts.
This refers to a person’s capability to accomplish tasks within their specific role. This authority is based on job descriptions, nurse practice acts, and organizational policies.
This refers to a nurse’s legal liability regarding their actions in patient care. As delegators transfer their responsibilities to delegatees, they must always maintain accountability for these tasks’ completion. The registered nurse is always accountable and responsible for the whole outcome of delegated tasks according to their state’s nurse practice act provisions.¹
Five Rights of Nursing Delegation
Delegation in nursing may face possible legal and ethical constraints. This led the American Nurses Association to develop the five rights of delegation to guide nurses in safely making decisions.²
The five rights outline the professional and legal accountability of nurses at all levels, from nursing service administrators to staff nurses. Staff nurses and nursing service administrators must collaborate cooperatively to protect their patients and the public while maintaining the integrity of the nursing care delivery system.
The task assigned should be under the delegatee’s job description or is included as part of the established written procedures and policies of the nursing practice setting.
The delegatee must possess the appropriate knowledge and skills to perform the tasks assigned. This must be made certain by the licensed nurse, employer, and delegatee.
Delegation is suitable when the patient is in a stable condition. If the patient’s condition changes, the delegatee should promptly inform the delegator for reassessment.
Right Direction and Communication
Effective communication is vital between the delegator and delegatee. It is also important to note that each delegation should be specific to the delegator, delegatee, and patient. It includes sharing necessary data, setting reporting timelines, and exchanging important information related to the situation.
The delegatee must fully understand the terms of the delegation and willingly agree to undertake the assigned activity. The delegator, in turn, should ensure the delegatee understands they cannot make any modifications or decisions without consulting the delegator beforehand.
Right Supervision and Evaluation
The delegator, or licensed nurse, has the responsibility to monitor the delegated task, follow up with the delegatee regarding its progress and completion, and evaluate the patient’s condition.
The delegatee’s responsibility is to communicate patient information to the delegator during the delegation process. The delegator should be available and prepared to intervene as needed and ensure proper documentation of the task.
What Are the Benefits of Delegation in Nursing?
Successful delegation can save lives. Delegation is an important skill that can allow any nurse to sort out their workload and prioritize more complex tasks or situations. It also helps free up a nurse’s mental bandwidth so they can provide the best care for their patients.
However, many nurses don’t delegate enough activities. Taking on too many responsibilities can often lead to struggle and may burden the entire team. Here are the reasons why nurses should delegate some of their activities. Understanding these may encourage them to work better with the help of others.
Can Enhance Work Efficiency
Delegation allows nurses to effectively distribute their workload. Getting in touch with qualified individuals and delegating tasks to them allows nurses to focus more on activities related to critical patient care and other nursing interventions.
Can Improve Patient Care
Delegation lets the delegator focus their time and energy to direct patient care. This can enhance patient outcomes. When non-nursing tasks are handed over to delegatees, delegators can concentrate on providing extensive assessments, performing treatments, administering medications, and coordinating care plans.
Can Increase the Patient’s Safety
Delegation plays a crucial role in ensuring patient safety by carefully selecting competent delegatees with the necessary skills for assigned tasks. Nurses can delegate routine activities, such as vital sign checks or sample collection, while closely monitoring patients for potential risks and intervening promptly when necessary.
This proactive approach contributes to maintaining a safe environment for patients under their care.
Can Help Identify Growth Opportunities and Develop Nursing Skills
Delegation in nursing provides an avenue for nurses to identify personal growth opportunities and unlock their potential, along with their team members. Nurses can identify strengths and areas for improvement by monitoring their delegatees, which is particularly valuable for new nurses.
Both delegators and delegatees also have the chance to enhance their professional growth through empowerment. Delegatees can contribute to improving the overall quality of care within the healthcare facility by gaining more experience and expanding their competencies.
Can Build Better Collaboration and Teamwork
Delegating tasks foster effective communication, mutual respect, and a shared sense of responsibility among team members. This practice creates a supportive and positive work environment that encourages collaboration across disciplines, ultimately enhancing patient outcomes.
Can Improve Time Management
Delegating tasks in nursing enhances time management by enabling nurses to prioritize effectively and redistribute their workload. It gives them the opportunity to dedicate more time to crucial activities like problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making. These factors are vital in delivering the highest quality of care to their patients.
Can Make the Job More Satisfying
About 60 percent of nurses experience burnout.³ It may affect nurses’ job satisfaction. But nursing delegation can make nurses more satisfied and happier with their jobs.
This is because involving other teammates in the care process can help nurses decrease the possibility of burnout, experience a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work, and improve their work-life balance. Delegation also lets them focus on their specific interests and strengths in their profession.
Care for Your Nursing Workforce Through Delegation
Tasks and patient care in the field of nursing are more manageable when accomplished as a team. Encourage your nurses to seek help when they need it so they can work to their full potential without exhausting themselves.
Delegation not only improves the overall productivity of the nursing workforce but also hones the skills and capabilities of each nursing professional involved.
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1 Barrow, Jennifer M., and Sandeep Sharma. “Five Rights of Nursing Delegation.” National Library of Medicine, 25 Jul. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519519/.
2 “National Guidelines for Nursing Delegation.” Nursing World, https://www.nursingworld.org/~4962ca/globalassets/practiceandpolicy/nursing-excellence/ana-position-statements/nursing-practice/ana-ncsbn-joint-statement-on-delegation.pdf. Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.
3 “What is Nurse Burnout? How to Prevent It.” American Nurses Association, accessed 9 Jun. 2023, https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/work-environment/health-safety/nurse-burnout-and-how-to-prevent-it/#:~:text=Results%20from%20a%202020%20survey,care%20systems%20in%20the%20U.S.