Nurse-to-nurse report (change of shift or transfer of care) is an age-old skill that no one teaches you. It’s the source of concern for many in healthcare these days, but no one seems to take the time to spell out what makes a good report. Take a quick second and read these tips to make up a good hand-off report:

  1. Always be prepared - Be the Boy Scout (sorry, ladies). Approach giving report the same way you approach calling a physician. Have your ducks in a row, have all your information gathered and know what you want to say before you start saying it.
  2. Anticipate - Always anticipate the questions. What would you want to know about this patient if you were the one receiving the report and not giving it?
  3. Nursing is a 24-hour job - This is a strong and valid statement, yet none of us actually follow the advice. What happened during your shift that rolled over from the prior shift? What will roll over from your shift onto the oncoming shift? You need to be prepared and mindful of all the tasks and events taking place for your patient and turn them into actionable results, even if that means it was something that happened before you got there, or will happen after you leave.
  4. Be organized - Not only in your thought process, but in the delivery of your report. It’s a common practice to give your assessment findings in the same order as you perform the assessment (head-to-toe), but there is no right or wrong here, just be organized! Do not jump all over the place with no rhyme or reason. That’s how things get missed and mistakes are made.
  5. Team effort - Be sure to include the oncoming shift when making any change of shift decisions. Get their input. I don’t think I need to remind you how much more effective and safe patient care is when it’s a team effort.

There are a ton of cheat sheets and tools you can use to help you. In the end, it’s your responsibility to be an effective and efficient communicator, so you will get out of it what you put into it