Nurses' Time Allocation and Multitasking of Nursing Activities: A Time Motion Study

Po Yin Yen, Marjorie Kellye, Marcelo Lopetegui, Abhijoy Saha, Jacqueline Loversidge, Esther M. Chipps, Lynn Gallagher-Ford, Jacalyn Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Nurses have been required to provide more patient-centered, efficient, and cost effective care. In order to do so, they need to work at the top of their license. We conducted a time motion study to document nursing activities on communication, hands-on tasks, and locations (where activities occurred), and compared differences between different time blocks (7am-11am, 11am-3pm, and 3pm-7pm). We found that nurses spent most of their time communicating with patients and in patient rooms. Nurses also spent most of their time charting and reviewing information in EHR, mostly at the nursing station. Nurses' work was not distributed equally across a 12-hour shift. We found that greater frequency and duration in hands-on tasks occurred between 7am-11am. In addition, nurses spent approximately 10% of their time on delegable and non-nursing activities, which could be used more effectively for patient care. The study results provide evidence to assist nursing leaders to develop strategies for transforming nursing practice through re-examination of nursing work and activities, and to promote nurses working at top of license for high quality care and best outcomes. Our research also presents a novel and quantifiable method to capture data on multidimensional levels of nursing activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1146
Number of pages10
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2018


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