For our purposes, a shift is simply a list of tasks. How is this list constructed? It is the combination of:

  1. The tasks you do on every shift (such as re-stocking the crash cart), plus
  2. The tasks you do for every patient on every shift (such as setting up meal trays), plus
  3. The interventions you do for specific patients (such as skin care for a patient with fragile skin, insulin administration for a diabetic patient, etc.), plus
  4. Things that come up, such as checking the results returned from a lab test, or following up with a clinician.

When you start your shift, you may need to add specific tasks such as diabetes care or wound care for specific patients. Usually, you do this when you take report from the outgoing nurse, when you review the chart, or when you get an order from a physician. These tasks are organized in small sets we call protocols.