Learning the professional jargon of nursing during change of shift report

Holist Nurs Pract. 1989 Nov;4(1):78-83. doi: 10.1097/00004650-198911000-00014.


Nurses discuss their patients in sequence during change of shift report. Guided by the patient record, this orderly progression of facts and words takes place repeatedly at specific time intervals and imposes order on the easily disordered events of patient units. The amount of information shared by reporting nurses increases when the acuity level of patients is high and when patients are recently admitted to patient units. Shift report functions as a forum for the socialization of nurses into the role of the nurse. During shift report, nurses express worries, complain, warn about possible errors, acknowledge errors, and set standards of nursing care. Using the language of nursing and telling "war stories" of their nursing experiences, nurses gently guide inexperienced nurses. Change of shift report is a nursing ritual that allows the hidden commitment of nurses to continuous coverage and responsibility for patients visible through the professional jargon of nursing.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Social Identification
  • Socialization
  • Terminology as Topic*