Reclaiming Nurse Time in Medical-Surgical Units for Enhanced Support

In 2020, The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) joined in partnership with Medtronic to further provide support for the community of medical-surgical nurses. The two organizations continue to collaborate to enhance awareness, education, and advocate for medical-surgical nurses and the care they deliver to their patients. Part of that advocacy is helping medical-surgical nurses access the tools and gain time needed to provide necessary care.

Medical-surgical nurses have multiple priorities and must expertly manage the care of their assigned patients. They must ensure each patient receives medications, therapies, tests and procedures, and provide education while continually assessing their condition and preparing them for discharge from the hospital. As nurse staffing becomes an increasing challenge due to the current shortage of nurses, it is important to not only look at the challenges nurses face in providing patient care, but to also find solutions to help improve workflows and efficiencies.

Medtronic is on a mission to give time back to medical-surgical nurses through its Reclaim Time on Medical-Surgical Units initiative. Reclaiming time back in a nurse’s shift helps to ease the burden they carry in trying to meet every patient’s needs while coordinating care, responding to alarms, completing documentation, or searching for supplies and equipment. Decreasing the time spent on these activities may help lessen nurses’ frustration and job dissatisfaction, which may lead to reduced burnout and moral injury.  

Related: Learn more about reclaiming time on the medical-surgical unit.


Why time allocation of tasks lessens patient support

In a 2017 study, Schenk and colleagues identified that 41.1 percent of medical-surgical nurses time was spent completing interventions related to documentation.1 This means that in a 12-hour shift, nurses spend approximately 5 hours documenting medication administration, notes, vital signs, and reviewing interprofessional team documentation related to the plan of care. The study also found that 13 percent of nurses’ time was spent on education-related interventions including patient educational support around medications, lab results, and disease processes.

While 13 percent of a 12-hour shift is approximately 2 hours, most nurses would appreciate spending much more time than that educating and providing support to patients and their family members — ultimately preparing them for discharge. These examples provide evidence of the need for nurses to gain back time so they can support providing high quality, personalized patient care.

Related: Explore ways to reduce alarm fatigue in reclaiming time.


How can nurses further reclaim time for enhanced patient care?

Technology is constantly evolving, and there are emerging tools available to help nurses reclaim their time. To streamline documentation, portable devices, standardized documentation, and connected devices can greatly reduce the time medical-surgical nurses spend recording information in the electronic health record.

There are also opportunities to improve communication among the care team and with patients using wireless badge technology. Wireless technology has improved clinician response time to patient calls, communication with clinicians about lab results, and decreased the need for nurses to travel to a stationary workstation to coordinate patient care, which allows for more time at the bedside.  

We must support medical-surgical nurses and healthcare professionals as they care for patients. Assisting in improving their workflows and implementing automation when possible may help decrease the physical and stress-related burdens caregivers face while providing patient care. Medtronic has a range of products that have proven nurses can reclaim their time and spend it where it matters most — at the patient’s bedside. The last two years has provided evidence that we must care for our caregivers, and implementing technology and automation are steps in the right direction.

To learn more about how Medtronic provides patient monitoring and workflow optimization solutions in medical-surgical units, please visit

Microstream™ capnography, Nellcor™ pulse oximetry, and Vital Sync™ remote surveillance should not be used as the sole basis for diagnosis and are intended only as adjuncts in patient assessment.


  1. Schenk E., Schleyer R., Jones C., Fincham S., Daratha K., Monsen K. (2017). Time motion analysis of nursing work in ICU, telemetry and medical- surgical units. Journal of Nursing Management, 25 p. 640–646.

About the Author

AMSN President, Dr. Summer Bryant, DNP, RN, CENP, CMSRN is a managing consultant for Berkeley Research Group (BRG) where she serves as a subject matter expert for medical-surgical nursing processes and patient care delivery. She is a seasoned healthcare leader with more than 19 years of clinical expertise and nursing leadership experience in medical-surgical environments. She has led teams in a variety of areas to transform performance, reduce staff turnover, and deliver high quality care and patient service. Dr. Bryant is adept at managing projects and leading people while building a cohesive, collaborative environment and developing nurses and other staff members into leaders. She has completed research studying the effect of the Lean Management System on unfinished nursing care in a medical-surgical setting. She is a member of several professional nursing organizations, to include the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses, the American Nurses Association, the Kansas Nurses Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International. Dr. Bryant received three degrees from The University of Kansas: BSN, MSN, and DNP focused in Organizational Leadership

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