We review top PA & APRN time management strategies that you can apply to even the most hectic clinical environment.
We’ve all heard the saying, “time flies when you’re having fun,” but for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) time flying is a regular part of life.
When you’re pulled in countless directions during the workday, time management can be a challenge. For example, how do you limit your time with a patient who has extra questions? How can you explain that you’d love to speak further, but you can’t take time from the next patient or project that demands your attention?
For compassionate, hard-working APRNs and PAs, it can feel like an impossible situation.
Learn New Ways to Communicate During Patient Interactions
Patients are the reason APRNs and PAs do what they do. You realize that you touch people during extremely difficult periods in their lives. It’s only natural to want to give concerned patients as much time as they need.
As hard as it may be, maintaining control of your time is not a negative—rather, it’s a positive step toward more proactive and focused appointments. One great way to improve patient interactions is to begin each appointment with an objective. Lay the groundwork for what the discussion should cover within the time you have and prioritize questions accordingly. This will help you to stay on task, and it will provide structure for your patients to ask their questions more efficiently.
Of course, some patients may still find themselves with more questions than you have time to answer. When that happens, don’t take it sitting down—literally. Stand up to continue the conversation instead. This body language will make it clear that your appointment is coming to a close.
Rely on Co-workers
Never forget that you’re part of a team. When your schedule is intense, you don’t have to shoulder the entire workload on your own. There’s no shame in asking for assistance. Many colleagues will be happy to lend a hand, knowing you’ll be there to return the favor another day.
Set Daily and Weekly Goals
Goal-setting will serve you well on both a macro- and micro-scale. Many APRNs and PAs will set long-term goals with a supervisor, but on a day-to-day basis, making a mental note or physically writing a checklist at the start of each shift can keep you organized.
After all, unexpected patient interactions or emergency situations occur. Maintaining a checklist will help you stay on top of your responsibilities, keep track of your progress, and give you a roadmap to follow.
While you may not accomplish everything in a single day, you can still achieve your most important tasks. For instance, if you can’t answer every question a patient has, be sure to answer the ones that are vital to his or her emotional and physical health. Can’t complete all of your paperwork? Do the assignment that’s most urgent, and then spread out the others throughout the week.
Give yourself the tools to take charge during your workday, even as new situations develop.
Practice Work-Life Juggling
Stress at home can’t be entirely avoided, but it’s important to practice self-care off-the-clock so you can be in top-form while at work. We believe in soul food; what is it that feeds your soul and brings energy to your day, even when the day is overloaded?
Life juggling depends on healthy inputs and intentional outputs. Be open about your needs at home, and ask for help. Enjoy your time-off; relax, engage in a hobby, and make it a point to get reenergized for another day at work.
APRNs and PAs dedicate their lives to helping others, but as the saying goes: “You can’t help others if you do not first help yourself.” Approach each day proactively and pragmatically, and keep your working goals in mind. Time management is a skill that can help you give your best self to each patient interaction.
What time management strategies work well for you? Leave us a comment below with your tips for other APRN and PA pros!
Jill Gilliland is President of Melnic an APRN and PA national recruiting company. Jill is a speaker and publicist on areas such as job strategies, branding and marketing, pediatric critical care needs, and additional topics relevant to pediatric nursing and the recruitment business. She has over 12 years of experience in the recruiting industry coupled with a strong sales, healthcare, and technology background. Jill holds a BS degree in Business from the University of Southern California and an MBA from The University of Virginia, Darden Business School. Connect with Jill Gilliland on LinkedIn.