A game-based approach accelerates time management skills.
- Time management is an essential skill for nurses, especially new graduates.
- Using a novel board game, Nurse Life, nurses better understand how integrating time management strategies into clinical practice contributes to optimizing patient care.
Nurses are bound to time. It guides their entire day as they manage multiple patients and tasks, constantly prioritizing and reprioritizing. From medication administration and patient testing to time-outs before a procedure, time management is critical to ensuring proper care delivery, recognizing a patient’s changing condition, and optimizing workflows.
New graduate nurses join the profession with a strong theoretical foundation and an opportunity to enhance their clinical knowledge and skills. Organizations can support these novices by providing new graduate residency programs that include time management skills to help bridge the gap between theory and clinical practice.
A novel approach
Throughout the residency program at Advocate Aurora Health, new graduates are encouraged to apply time management strategies to connect meaning with nursing activities. These strategies align with expectations established by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Practice Transition Accreditation Program. (See Time management strategies.)
Recognizing that new graduate nurses gravitate toward task completion, we created Nurse Life, a customizable board game, and integrated it into our systemwide new graduate nurse residency program. The game includes a variety of nursing activities and time-management techniques to enhance new graduates’ understanding that completing nursing tasks is a piece of a puzzle that fits into a larger picture and to demonstrate how time management strategies can optimize patient care.
New graduates are divided into small groups of four to five players and one charge nurse. Each group has a Nurse Life game board, spinner, game pieces, and timecards that equal 720 minutes (equivalent to a 12-hour shift). The charge nurse is responsible for managing the “time bank” and is an active player. The time bank consists of index cards worth 15, 30, and 60 minutes. Before the game starts, the charge nurse distributes the timecards to each player, including themselves. As the game progresses, the charge nurse adds or deducts time accordingly.
The game board includes a variety of nursing activity circles with completion times and blue time management strategy circles. When a nurse lands on an activity circle, the charge nurse deducts the designated time from their total. When the nurse passes a blue time management strategy circle, the charge nurse awards 30 minutes. Nurses are given 15 minutes to play the game. The nurse with the most time accumulated at the end is declared the winner. (See A game with a purpose.)
Throughout the game, new graduates are encouraged to think critically about how tasks fit into a larger picture and how essential they are to comprehensive care. After completing the game, the small groups reconvene into the larger group for reflective debriefing. Using peer support, the new graduates discuss their current time management strategies, including best practices and areas for development. A conversation led by the facilitator (a nurse educator who’s a member of the nursing professional development education team) encourages re-evaluating current practices and opportunities for incorporating newly learned time management strategies into clinical practice. The discussion fosters an understanding of which clinical tasks require a greater expenditure of time and how time management strategies can improve patient outcomes, enhance care delivery, and allow for meaningful connections with patients.
At the end of each residency program session, nurses complete a voluntary electronic evaluation, rating content using a Likert scale. In March 2020, feedback from 434 participants indicated that 97% (421) strongly agreed or agreed that time management strategies can be applied and incorporated into daily practice. These findings demonstrate that the board game approach positively contributes to new nurses’ understanding of the importance of integrating the time management strategies learned in the course into clinical practice.
The Nurse Life board game, combined with reflection and peer support, encourages new graduate nurses to explore the connections between nursing activities and time management strategies. Although the game was designed for use with new graduates, it can be customized for use in a variety of onboarding and ongoing staff development opportunities. AN
Robin Hackett and Veronica Bigott are system nursing professional development specialists at Advocate Aurora Health in Downers Grove, Illinois.
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