September 4, 2019

What Does Complete Look Like? | Nursing Hacks # 17

I recently finished my ARNP critical care orientation. I started with an ASN, got my BSN, and now my MSN. With each pathway, I found a common issue in the learning process. Many people would ask me to complete a task. I would attempt to complete the task, but there would always be some missing piece I never completed. The more this occurred, the more frustrated I began. I recently read the book, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. This book is fantastic and opened my eyes to clear communication.

One aspect of the book that drew me in was the concept of completion. When I would be asked to complete a task, the instruction would be somewhat vague, and I never truly knew what finished looked like. For example, I was asked to complete the admission forms for a new admission. I'd complete the required forms, but there would special things I didn't do that everyone "knew to do" with new admissions. No one discussed this with me, but I was expected know it.

I would perform the task to the best of my knowledge. But there was always something missing or half-done in the eyes of my preceptor or attending. As you learn, you get feedback and corrective measures. That process can be overwhelming and honestly frustrating at times. But what was more frustrating was the lack of understanding regarding what "complete" looked like. After reading this section of the book, I now approach tasks differently. After I'm given a task, I always follow up with these questions:

C - 1. What does complete look like?
What checkboxes are your reviewing in your head? What do you expect to be done?

T - 2. Expected time frame to complete things?
How long do I have? Are you under any time constraints?

A - 3. Any additional things I need to know about?
Are there any special caveats I need to know before starting?

The frustration comes in a lack of overall understanding. The funny thing about communication is that one person can think it's happened, while the other person is completely clueless and lost. Just because words are spoken and someone nods their head, doesn't mean he or she properly understands the scope of the task. I've seen preceptors give nursing students a simple instruction. The nursing student then performs the task but misses a key element. This is often due to a lack of understanding regarding what "complete" looks like.

If all this sounds annoying, over the top or "too much," then you are probably a person who has to clarify instructions multiple times. You might often find yourself disappointed in the actions of others. Take the time to explain what you need. Don't assume people know the intricacies of your request. Explain what you want, and be clear the first time. Learning is a frustrating process. Someone who doesn't have the time or patience to explain what they want really doesn't help.

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