Tips for Taking Report Like A Boss

As a new grad, do you find yourself missing bits and pieces of the verbal handoff from the nurse who gave you report?


“…with a history of what?”

“Wait, will you repeat that?”

“I’m sorry, will you slow down a little?”

Let’s talk about it…

Communication is Key

Good communication during report is essential for you to understand who your patients are and their background to properly care for them. First things first: Don’t feel ashamed or too embarrassed to ask those questions you think are unnecessary. The previous nurse is passing you the baton, so make sure you have a full grip before taking off. 

It’s Not About Speed

If you’re receiving a report and you can barely understand what the previous nurse is telling you, what good does that do for you or your patient? Ask them to slow down and repeat. If you express to someone that you can’t understand them, it will most likely prompt them to slow down. Remember they are leaving you with full responsibility for the 2 to 6 patients you may be caring for the next 12 hours. I believe you have a right to at least hear what they are saying. 

Read About Your Patients Beforehand

Yes, I said it… Beforehand! This means you’ll need to get to work 15 minutes earlier than usual to give yourself time to read about your patients. This will allow ample time to gather the baseline background on your patient(s), allowing you to be more attentive during verbal handoff with the nurse to catch what you occasionally miss. It also gives you time to review the patient’s care plan, your nursing orders, and the medications for your shift. This tip will keep you ahead and organized.

Form a Structured Checklist/Report Sheet 

If you take a look around, you may see that some nurses may receive shift handoff on blank sheets of paper and are able to manage. You may also see nurses with either the unit’s report sheet or one they made themselves. The sheets are usually developed from the most common and most important aspects of a patient’s SBAR, consisting of important reminders to ask the right questions and even acting as a quick reference when referring back to the patient throughout your shift. These sheets are what most of us call our “brain.” And I can totally agree with the name because somehow, I always forget the most important things about my patients when it’s not on hand. 

This part of the blog post is the most important because it was the most effective for me when staying organized in my practice. I have a FREE & fun report sheet for you guys that I made.

Feel FREE to download them and use whichever you feel will help you the most. You can also use these as references when building your own! I hope this helps. Good luck at shift change!

Keep your head high,


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  1. I would also recommend getting into the habit of purposefully hitting all of the major body systems. Neuro, cardiac, pulmonary, GI, GU, Integumentary, etc. It may seem daynting at first but it will serve you moving along your career path.

  2. Thank you, Kesi. I am about to graduate with my BSN and have taken note of the importance of change of shift. I have tried out the methods you speak of…blank sheet and unit brains, I finally realized I needed to decide on one and use it consistently. I was always lost using variations. I like the two you have shared and will give them a go! Near the end of my last set of rotations, I also realized that some nurses look at charts prior. I commend them! That will be me…just trying to keep up. Lol!
    Thanks for content!

    1. Ayye! Congrats on the degree!! and yaass, i’m glad i could help. Keep us updated on your journey and let us know if we can help in any way! Good Luck!