Five Reasons Nurses Should Use Whiteboards

The following is a guest post by Lindsay Wilcox of RNNetwork.

You have one in each patient’s room and probably use at least one at the nurse station or in the break room. That’s right; it’s a nursing whiteboard, and it can help you greatly improve your communication with your patients and the nurses and physicians you work with. Here are five reasons to start using them more.

Medical nurse showing blank sign

You can help your patient feel more comfortable

Right as you begin a new shift and start meeting your patients, go into their rooms, introduce yourself and write your name on the whiteboard by their beds. This helps them to remember your name and call for you when they need help, but it’s also a great way to be friendly and help them see you as an advocate who will help take care of them.

You can jog your own memory

Do you have trouble remembering a patient’s name without her chart in front of you? Use the whiteboard to write her own name in big letters so that you can use it immediately when you walk in. If your patient will be there long-term, ask her to give you three facts about herself and write them down under her name as well. It’ll give the other nurses a conversation starter as well and show your patient that you’re interested in getting to know her.

You can encourage patients to use whiteboards for their own questions

Sometimes patients have a bunch of questions about their care but can’t remember them when you walk into the room. Encourage them to use the whiteboard to write down their own questions right when they think of them so you (or the next nurse on shift) can answer them when you’re back.

You can help other nurses and physicians avoid mistakes

If you’re concerned that the next physician or nurse to care for your patient may overlook something on his chart, such as a latex allergy, use the whiteboard to communicate this, as well as the medications he is taking, time of his last bath and precautions needed. Having up-to-date information by the time your shift ends will make the next nurse’s job easier and lessen the risk of miscommunication.

You can empower patients to take control of their own care

Many nurses write a daily goal on their patients’ whiteboards, as well as a projected discharge date, to keep them up-to-date on their conditions and inspire them meet goals sooner rather than later. Doing so can spur dialogue between patient and nurse about the steps he or she needs to take to leave the hospital. If a patient recovering from surgery, for example, knows that she needs to be able to walk down the corridor unassisted before being discharged, she might start working harder toward that goal and pushing herself in physical therapy. Giving patients the chance to jumpstart their recovery can help them become better more quickly and feel confident that they achieved their goals.

How do you use whiteboards in your facility? Share your tips for streamlining communication between patients and providers!

Lindsay Wilcox is a public relations specialist at RNnetwork, a travel nurse staffing company headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. She enjoys featuring travel nurses, providing travel tips and highlighting nurse job destinations on the RNnetwork blog.

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