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Joint Statement on Delegation

American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Position Statement

Adopted ByANA and NCSBN

There is more nursing to do than there are nurses to do it. Many nurses are stretched to the limit in the current chaotic healthcare environment. Increasing numbers of people needing healthcare combined with increasing complexity of therapies create a tremendous demand for nursing care. More than ever, nurses need to work effectively with assistive personnel. The abilities to delegate, assign, and supervise are critical competencies for the 21st century nurse.

In 2005, both the American Nurses Association and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing adopted papers on delegation. Both papers presented the same message: delegation is an essential nursing skill. This joint statement was developed to support the practicing nurse in using delegation safely and effectively.

The topic of delegation has never been timelier. Delegation is a process that, used appropriately, can result in safe and effective nursing care. Delegation can free the nurse for attending more complex patient care needs, develop the skills of nursing assistive personnel and promote cost containment for the healthcare organization. The RN determines appropriate nursing practice by using nursing knowledge, professional judgment and the legal authority to practice nursing. RNs must know the context of their practice, including the state nurse practice act and professional standards as well as the facility/organization’s policies and procedures related to delegation. Facing a shortage of epic proportions, the nursing community needs to plan how we can continue to accomplish nursing care while assuring the public access to safe, competent nursing care. RNs are urged to seek guidance and appropriate direction from supervisors or mentors when considering decisions about delegation. Mastering the skill and art of delegation is a critical step on the pathway to nursing excellence.


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