Aim: To investigate nursing work patterns in a neurology department in a Chinese hospital.
Background: Knowledge of nursing work patterns is important for nursing management and work design, and for the evaluation of organizational process change associated with the introduction of an innovation.
Methods: A time‐and‐motion method was used to observe 14 registered nurses’ (RNs’) work patterns in a neurology department in a Chinese hospital.
Results: There were 147 hr of observation. Overall, the most time‐consuming activities were verbal communication (28.5%) and documentation (28.3%), followed by indirect care (14.6%) and direct care (14%). Compared to support RNs, charge RNs spent 20% more time on documentation and 11% more time on verbal communication. Two‐thirds of the observed activities had a duration of less than 40 s.
Conclusions: Communication, in verbal and written forms, consumed more than half of the nursing time. Conversely, nurses only spent about a quarter of their worktime on preparation for care provision and direct care provision. This reflects the significant role and resource‐consuming nature of communication to provide safe and quality care.
Implications for Nursing Management: Communication methods need to be enhanced to improve nursing productivity. This may be achieved through the introduction of more effective nursing documentation methods.