During my recent job shadow of a nurse working on the med/surg floor at a nearby hospital, it felt like we walked for miles during his shift. I was probably right. According to a 2008 study, nurses walk between one and five miles per 10-hour daytime shift.
This amount of walking is caused mainly by central workstations and longer, inefficient circulation paths to single patient rooms. This was the case during my shadow experience. Not only was our travel route inefficient, it also resulted in greater activity at the workstation where concentration and limited interruptions are so important.
Single patient rooms are advantageous and preferable for a number of reasons, but the resultant unit configurations have created even longer travel distances for nurses. These rooms are larger and when located side by side, the distance increases from one patient to the next.
This activity could be remedied by decentralizing supplies, equipment, and medications to the patient room. Or, another strategy would be to design narrower support cores with more cross circulation. Designing more circulation paths through the support core would enable nurses to work cross corridor and reduce their travel distances.
Decentralizing supplies, equipment and medications, and designing narrower support cores with cross circulation are key to reducing travel distances and promoting safe and efficient nurse environments. Plus, the additional time they save could be spent with patients—a win-win situation for all.
Top photo via: Flickr.com