If you work in health care at all, you are probably familiar with “shift report”, or “morning meeting”, or “huddle”. While the content varies from one facility to the next, the universal aim is to provide the employees coming on with a quick rundown of how the previous shift went, what they can expect on their shift as a result, and any new or exciting policies or best practices being implemented: (spoiler alert, in healthcare, there are ALWAYS new practices and policies being put into place). Any pertinent safety information would typically be relayed here first, and any facility wide delays or improvements that might affect the work flow of the unit may be introduced. Seems simple enough, right?
But here’s the thing: No one, and by no one I mean ABSOLUTELY no one, actually likes pre shift meetings, do they? Even the nurse managers and unit supervisors responsible for enforcing these shenanigans probably dread them, because it’s one more thing they have to keep track of and enforce, one more expectation they have to set for a group of people who undoubtedly already feel like too much is expected of them as it is. I’m pretty sure unit supervisors and nurse managers aren’t big fans of extra hassle, although I think we can all agree that there are quite a few who might be fans of never cracking a joke, not smiling at all, and never, under any circumstances, unclenching their butt cheeks. And even if your job is the most rewarding one on earth, you probably don’t want to go there any earlier than you have to.
If you are one of those people like myself who generally consider three minutes late to be right on time, showing up a full five minutes ahead of time can seem almost impossible. Sitting in a room full of your grumpy, under-caffeinated co-workers, waiting to have the nurse leader from the night or day shift hustle in like a storm cloud of anxiety and rain on each individual parade, reminding you that if you think you have it bad now, it’s about to get worse, is tough to get excited about. It can feel like an even bigger waste of time if you are working several consecutive shifts, and have already heard most of the safety updates and/or policy and improvement news, (which tend to be repeated for a few days in most places, in an attempt to provide better communication). And the temptation is always there to just skip it. Why not, right? It’s boring! It’s a drag! Well hang in there, because I’m about to tell you why you should NOT, yes, not, skip the pre shift showdown:
1- Safety: This one seems kind of obvious, but one of the things typically reviewed in huddle are the high risk fall patients, those at greatest clinical risk, and those with any challenging behaviors with the potential for escalation. I think we can all agree that a team effort makes for the safest environment, so, when everyone entering the unit knows that when the bed alarm goes off in room 115 you better hustle, because that means he’s already halfway out the bed, or that if the lady in 220 tells you she is safe to walk the halls alone she is LYING, or if you see the boyfriend for 317 coming in to visit call security, there is more likely to be effective intervention than if the only person who knows is the nurse in that assignment, especially if that nurse happens to be tied up putting in a catheter somewhere when all three of these scenarios play out at once. This makes sense, and I would much rather be mildly inconvenienced by having to show up to huddle every day than stand idly by while a disaster plays out that I didn’t see coming, but could have, you know, by going to huddle.