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Nursing Interview
Questions

48 Nursing Questions and Answers by Heather Douglass
| Heather has over 20 years experience recruiting and hiring candidates,
specifically in the health care industry.

Question 1 of 48

How do you prioritize when multiple patients and procedures demand your attention at once?

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Nursing Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    How do you prioritize when multiple patients and procedures demand your attention at once?

      Working in any patient unit or clinic comes with times where the patient load can be overwhelming. During these times, nurses are often the glue that holds everything together in the department to ensure that things run smoothly. The interviewer is asking this question to determine how the candidate manages such as situation and how they will be able to manage these types of situations at your organization. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should talk about a particular situation when they had to prioritize multiple patients at once, how they handled the situation, and what the outcome was.

      Heather's Answer

      "As a nurse in the emergency department, there are times when the action is crazy with patients coming in. During these times, I always remember that the needs of the patient come first so my triage skills come into use to prioritize which patients are the highest priority and which ones can wait. During these particular times, communication is extremely important for patients. If they are going to have a time period to wait, I communicate that to them and check in with them when I am able to. As well during these busy times, it is equally important for our team of nurses and physicians to stay in communication. From there, I stay calm and handle patients with quality care one at a time."

      Kelly's Answer

      "Working in the pediatric outpatient environment, I often am faced with competing priorities and situations where I have multiple patients who need my attention at once. Managing my patient load and these priorities are something I have struggled with since I began working as a nurse two years ago. At first, I would get extremely overwhelmed and because I was unsure of how to handle the situation, I would end up getting extremely behind in clinic. However, I have worked with my manager and my doctor to come up with new strategies to help me save time and improve efficiencies, which have helped me improve my practice. I also have been practicing strategies for being mindful and not getting overwhelmed, which has helped me focus on each task at hand, rather than getting overwhelmed by the whole."

      Ryan's Answer

      "During my clinical rotation in an Urgent Care clinic, we had a very busy day where many patients were coming in due to a flu virus that was being spread around. In working with my preceptor, I learned from him how to communicate to patients what their wait times would be and how to best triage patients based on their symptoms. His calmness in handling the situation was inspiring. Personally, during my final year of coursework in college, I was taking 18 credits each semester. During these semesters, I had to learn to prioritize my classwork by due dates and order of importance. By utilizing checklists and working through each thing one at a time, I learned invaluable skills that I can bring to my nursing career."

      Ryan's Answer

      "One day on my shift as a nurse in the surgery center, we were booked full of cases throughout the day. As the day progressed, we had a couple of other trauma cases that were a high priority come in due to an auto accident. When this happened, we had to work as a team to communicate to current patients and family members in waiting that we had to push their times back in the day due to an emergent situation. An on-call surgeon came in later in the day to help cover the regularly scheduled cases and I had to communicate with the three surgeons on duty as to where I was needed and when I needed to be there. In the end, being able to prioritize the patients and my duties was crucial in helping the day in the surgery center run smoothly."

      Anonymous Answer

      "One day on my shift as an ED nurse, we had a couple of other trauma cases that were a high priority come in due to an auto accident. When this happened, we had to work as a team to communicate with current patients and family members in waiting that we had to push their times back in the day due to an emergent situation. An on-call surgeon came in later in the day to help cover the regularly scheduled cases and I had to communicate with the three surgeons on duty as to where I was needed and when I needed to be there. In the end, being able to prioritize the patients and my duties were crucial in helping the day in the ED run smoothly."

      Kristine's Answer

      Great answer! The interviewer will be convinced you can navigate competing priorities successfully. Before jumping into your example, go ahead and speak to how you handle this situation in general. In your updated response, I included a sample introductory sentence you can tailor.

      "In the ER, we frequently face pressing multiple patients and procedures, and in these cases, I use my triage skills to prioritize what needs to be done first. One day on my shift as an ED nurse, we had a couple of trauma cases that were high priority come in due to an auto accident. When this happened, we had to work as a team to communicate with current patients and family members in waiting that we had to push their times back in the day due to an emergent situation. An on-call surgeon came in later in the day to help cover the regularly scheduled cases, and I communicated with the three surgeons on duty as to where I was needed and when I needed to be there. In the end, being able to prioritize the patients and my duties as well as communicate with patients and medical staff was crucial in helping the day in the ED run smoothly."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "When I was working as a triage nurse in the emergency department, I need to prioritize patients according to the highest priority and which one can wait. During those times, communication is extremely important for patients. If they need to wait a long time, I need to communicate that to them and check in with them when I'm able. Some times patients and families don't want to wait; they will ask many questions. Some would demand to see a doctor immediately. That time I stay calm and handle patients with quality care one at a time."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good answer! It sounds like you have a great ability to prioritize and manage multiple demands coming at you from different sources.

      "When I was working as a triage nurse in the emergency department, I need to prioritize patients according to the highest priority. During those times, communication is crucial for patients. If they need to wait a long time, I need to communicate that to them and check in with them when I'm able. Sometimes patients and families don't want to wait. They will ask many questions, and some will demand to see a doctor immediately. When this happens, I stay calm and handle patients with quality care one at a time."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No