Paperwork–The Bane of Healthcare Professionals!

Are you an experienced nurse (or other healthcare professional) who fondly remembers when admitting patients/clients the process was simpler and it was much easier to begin a healing relationship with them?  Nowadays paperwork seems to be so involved and takes so long it sometimes may feel to patients as if they are signing their lives away as they are being “grilled” with questions.  I do understand the need to get enough information to develop an effective treatment plan, and of course signing confidentiality and treatment consents are essential. But, can’t we somehow streamline the process and put the emphasis back on helping the people who are hurting and often scared?  Are there ways we can help them feel safe and valued as human beings?

Five Ways to Minimize the Stress Effects of our Modern Admission Process:

  1.  Remember that the nursing profession has been rated, more than once, by Nielsen Polls as being the most trustworthy. Therefore, try to keep in mind building trust is a priority during the admission process—no matter what!
  2. Taking quick deep breathing mini-vacations (I utilize the ladies’ room as a quiet place) can help decrease our own stress levels and help increase our ability to focus on the patients’ needs.
  3. Although I let most clients share their main concerns and signs/symptoms in their own words and somewhat at their own pace, when they start to “ramble” too much I suggest gently redirecting them.  That way, without cutting them off in the middle of a thought of course, I can get the needed assessment health information but within a reasonable time frame.
  4.  Ask yourself if your automated or paperless record keeping system really saves you time or do you experience computer glitches or are crashes common?  Often the people actually using the system are the just the ones to come up with the best ideas to improve it where needed. Personally I find I have also become a much faster typist!
  5.  This is a hard one.  Understanding we are only human is a tough one for professional caretakers, but there are days when an overload of tasks can make it difficult if not impossible for dedicated professionals with high self-expectations to feel good about what they can/did accomplish.  I remind myself on those days that all my clients have gotten the best from me, even if my paperwork has to be completed the next day, since I work outpatient.  For nurses working on units, if at the end of your shifts your patients are safe and you have given them essential medical care, give yourself a break.  Don’t “should” on yourself, i.e. “I should have spent a few more minutes talking with one new patient, charted in greater depth on a presenting concern, etc.”

While the fast pace of modern healthcare and sometimes rapid changes that cause further stress are inevitable, remembering it isn’t just what happens to us, but how we respond or adapt to stressors can help nurses feel at least a little more empowered.



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