The importance of good goal-setting is often overlooked in a busy, stressful healthcare environment. We have many nursing, homecare and health providers who've identified the importance of communicating clear objectives and use PeopleGoal to set the strategic framework, track and align their organizational goals. We'll take you through the SMART goals methodology, give you a template to create your own objectives and show you five SMART goals examples in nursing.
Setting SMART goals is the first step of continuous performance management. The SMART methodology helps you to construct clearly defined goals using five attributes:
Specific: This goal covers one clearly-defined area that's direct and easy to understand.
Measurable: The goal has measurable outcomes that indicate when you've achieved the goal.
Achievable: The goal is challenging but realistically achievable for your skills, resources and capabilities.
Relevant: The goal supports the broader needs of the ward, department and organization.
Timely: There's a clear due date by when the goal needs to be achieved.
Learn more about the history of SMART goals and why they're important with our Essential Guide to SMART goals.
As a nurse, setting good goals is critical as they help you to define your development framework and keep you on track with your progress. Goals can help you stay focused and keep you motivated when things get stressful and overwhelming. This is particularly important in banded organisations such as the NHS where your skills and responsibilities are clearly defined at each level. Documenting your own progress and achievements is a big step forward in proving you're ready to move to the next level in your nursing career.
Setting objectives is a great exercise in autonomous self-development, but it's also a chance to open up a conversation with your manager or clinical lead to identify further goals you may not even have thought of. The NHS has a great set of both clinical and non-clinical SMART goals for you to see how other departments structure their team development, employee engagement, patient care and leadership objectives.
The key areas you should focus on when setting SMART goals in nursing are:
I will use the ward policy guidelines to construct an updated patient and staff safety and hazard checklist. This list needs to be checked by every staff nurse on a rotating basis once per month. I will complete the list by the end of September and measure monthly whether it is being completed by all team members.
Ask yourself, "How is this goal specific?"
The objective focuses on one clear outcome (an updated safety and hazard checklist).
I will hand over patient details, care instructions and assessment notes to the next shift nurse before completing my shift. I need to do this before every break to ensure patient details are noted and specific instructions are followed. Additionally, this will help all nursing staff to understand areas of interest for patients to built a rapport and help take their mind off of medical issues.
Ask yourself, "How is this goal measurable?"
The handover needs to happen every single time. You can use a checklist to be signed by both the departing and arriving nurses to make sure you're following protocol every time you end your shift.
Following the weekly timetabling meeting I will document my additional tasks so that I can effectively divide up my time to manage all my duties. This will help me to improve my time management and delegate or ask for help whenever the ward becomes too busy.
Ask yourself, "Is this goal achievable?"
Taking ten minutes following a meeting where you're already dividing up tasks is achievable within your resources, and will save plenty of time in knowing exactly where you need to be and when.
Check out our list of inspiring SMART goals verbs to help you kickstart your own objective setting.
As soon as I leave a patient I will chart all my notes about our interaction while they're still fresh in my mind. This will help streamline the shift handover and ensure I'm not forgetting to make important notes before I'm taken to my next task.
Ask yourself, "Is this goal relevant?"
Accuracy is extremely relevant to delivering the best patient care and minimising the risk of safety issues.
By the end of the year I want to attend three half-day workshops geared towards my current specialty, another field suggested by my manager and one field I know nothing about.
Ask yourself, "Is this goal time-bound?"
You'll need to assess whether it's realistic to attend three workshops by the end of the year.
Ready to set your own SMART goals in nursing now? Use our SMART goal setting template for Word and Google Docs to build on these examples and to construct your own meaningful, relevant objectives to move your career forward.
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