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Charting tips for when a colleague is on vacation

charting tips for nurse practitioners

It’s summer. Which means many people are taking extra time off work to go on vacation.

This is fine and all, unless you are the coworker that has to cover your colleagues work.

It can be extremely overwhelming to take on extra work when you are already running behind and charting at home. But everyone (yourself included) deserves some time off from work!

My colleague was recently gone for 10 days and there’s a few charting tips I did to help protect my time.

Block Off Extra Time to Catch Up on Work

One of the most effective strategies is to block off extra time in your schedule specifically for catching up on the additional work. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss/clinic manager for this extra time.

This might mean setting aside an hour at the end of each day or coming in a bit early. The key is to create a buffer that allows nurse practitioners to manage the increased workload without compromising the care you provide to your own patients. This buffer time can be used for reviewing patient records, managing unexpected issues, and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.

These charting tips will help you better protect your own time.

Delegate the Colleague’s EHR Inbox

The electronic health record (EHR) inbox can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you’re managing your own in addition to a colleague’s. To prevent nurse practitioner burnout and ensure timely responses, delegate parts of the EHR inbox to other team members if possible.

For example, routine refill requests or simple follow-up questions can often be handled by nurses or medical assistants. By implementing charting tips and delegating these tasks, nurse practitioners can free up their time to focus on more complex patient care issues.

Utilize Templates and Protocols

Another way to manage the increased workload efficiently is to make use of templates and protocols. If your practice has established protocols for common conditions or treatment plans, use them to streamline your documentation and decision-making process. These charting tips will help nurse practitioners stay caught up with the added work.

Templates for patient notes, follow-up instructions, and prescription refills can save you significant time. If such resources don’t exist, consider developing a few basic templates that can be customized as needed. This will help nurse practitioners stay on top of the additional work.

***The NP Charting School shares so many charting tips! Make sure to check out The Comprehensive List of Smart Phrases to save time charting!

smart phrases for nurse practitioners
The Nurse Practitioner Charting School offers The Comprehensive List of Smart Phrases for Nurse Practitioners!

Prioritize Self-Care

It’s crucial to remember that you also need time to rest and recharge. While it might seem counterintuitive, taking regular breaks and ensuring you have downtime is essential to maintain your productivity and mental health.

When my colleague was on vacation, I made sure to give myself grace. I allowed my house to be a littler messier than usual. I ordered take out for supper so I didn’t have to stress about making supper. I ensured I took some time during the workday to get outside for some fresh air. I made sure I did the small things that are a form of self-care. This really helped to ensure I was not adding to the stress.

Schedule short breaks throughout your day, and make sure you have at least one day off each week where you are completely unplugged from work. This will help you avoid nurse practitioner burnout and ensure you can provide the best care for your patients.

Communicate Clearly with Patients

When covering for a colleague, clear communication with patients is vital. Let patients know that their usual provider is on vacation and that you will be covering their care. This charting tip help set expectations and can make patients more understanding if there are any delays.

Provide patients with clear instructions on how to reach you or other team members for urgent issues. This proactive communication can prevent many potential issues and reduce patient anxiety.

Stay Organized

Keeping yourself organized is always important, but it becomes even more critical when you’re covering for a colleague. Use task lists, calendars, and reminders to keep track of everything that needs to be done.

Consider using project management tools or apps designed for healthcare providers to manage your tasks and priorities effectively. Staying organized and implementing charting tips helps you ensure that nothing is missed and that you can handle the increased workload efficiently.

Leverage Team Support

Don’t hesitate to lean on your team for support. This includes not only medical assistants and nurses but also administrative staff. They can help manage scheduling, handle phone calls, and assist with non-clinical tasks. Effective teamwork is essential in a healthcare setting, and by working together, you can ensure that patient care remains seamless even when a colleague is on vacation.

Anticipate Common Issues

Think ahead and anticipate common issues that might arise in your colleague’s absence. This might include having a plan for handling their high-risk patients or being aware of any ongoing treatments that require close monitoring. Having charting tips in place can help overcome these issues. By anticipating these issues, you can proactively address them, which helps reduce the likelihood of unexpected complications.

Reflect and Adjust

After your colleague returns, take some time to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. This reflection can help you adjust your approach for the next time you need to cover for someone. Perhaps certain tasks took longer than expected, or you found a new strategy that worked particularly well. Sharing these insights with your team can help improve the process for everyone.

Ensure Your Own Time Off

Finally, make sure you also take time off. Covering for a colleague can be exhausting, and it’s important to ensure that you also have time to recharge. Schedule your vacations well in advance and communicate your plans to your team. This allows everyone to prepare for your absence, just as you prepared for your colleague’s. Taking your own time off is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and ensuring long-term career satisfaction.

Additional charting tips for nurse practitioners

In conclusion, while covering for a colleague on vacation can be challenging, it’s manageable with the right strategies and charting tips! By blocking off extra time, delegating tasks, using templates, prioritizing self-care, communicating clearly, staying organized, leveraging team support, anticipating common issues, reflecting on your experiences, and ensuring your own time off, you can maintain high-quality patient care without burning out.

Remember, everyone deserves a break, including you!

If you are needing more charting and time management tips as a nurse practitioner, check out our Charting Courses for NPs!

There are a variety of topics that will help you not only improve your charting but also spend less time charting so you can STOP charting at home!

Check out our Charting Courses for Nurse Practitioners!

Erica D the NP is a family nurse practitioner and The Nurse Practitioner Charting Coach. Erica helps nurse practitioners STOP charting at home! Erica created The Nurse Practitioner Charting School to be the one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners. Learn more at www.npchartingschool.com

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