Improving Communication Through Resident-Nurse Shadowing

Hosp Pediatr. 2017 Nov;7(11):660-667. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2017-0001. Epub 2017 Oct 3.


Background: Previously, reduced resident hours, multiple ways to communicate (text paging, calling), and fewer opportunities for face-to-face communication had led to increased frustration from residents and nurses in our institution about communicating and prioritizing patient care needs. It was thought that a shared understanding and improved teamwork and communication between residents and nurses might be achieved if the residents could watch the nurses' workflow and observe their care priorities.

Objectives: To understand the experience of residents and nurses who had participated in a novel 4-hour nurse shadowing experience conducted during the first year of pediatric medical residency in a children's hospital.

Methods: We undertook a basic interpretive qualitative study by using semistructured interviews to formally evaluate the shadowing program by examining the experiences of both the first-year residents and the nurses being shadowed. Residents and nurses who had participated in the past 3 years were eligible for inclusion in the study.

Results: Seven themes emerged that supported the overarching theme of improving communication between residents and nurses. Shadowing led to improved resident understanding and appreciation of nurses' work. Both residents and nurses experienced enhanced relationships as they discussed opportunities to improve care delivery. Residents reported practice changes after shadowing a nurse. Peer relationships formed among the dyads that extended beyond the shadowing experience.

Conclusions: Shadowing a nurse proved to be a valuable experience that had an impact on participants and potentially a positive impact on patient care.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Nursing*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physician-Nurse Relations*
  • Pilot Projects