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Benefits of Delegation in Nursing: Tips for Leaders


Nurses may want to do it all, but despite their willingness to deliver comprehensive care to every patient, they’re only human. As a result, delegating is an essential skill for nurses in leadership roles. Top-notch nurse leaders are comfortable assigning tasks and supervising members of their nursing teams.


The benefits of delegation in nursing are clear. Assigning tasks frees up nurse leaders for other responsibilities. It also encourages skill building and team cohesion.


Learning how to delegate takes time, however. Nurse leaders must know the difference between tasks to hand over and those that require personal attention. Completing an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), helps registered nurses (RNs) become nurse leaders who delegate effectively.

Knowing When to Delegate

Experienced nurses know when to delegate tasks and which tasks to delegate.


Deciding when to delegate requires judgment and skill. For example, a patient’s condition and the amount of supervision required can shape a nurse’s decision to assign a task to a colleague. Leaders must also consider which tasks to assign to different team members.

Tasks That Can Be Delegated to RNs

RNs can manage complex patient care tasks. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse managers, and nurse leaders often delegate the following tasks to RNs.


  • Administering medication, IV fluids, and blood products
  • Instructing patients on postdischarge care and medications
  • Evaluating patients to create individualized care plans
  • Collaborating with other healthcare staff members, such as doctors and surgeons

Tasks That Can Be Delegated to Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) can take on basic care tasks. RNs, APRNs, and other nurse leaders can delegate tasks to these healthcare professionals. Delegating these responsibilities allows nurse leaders to focus on other tasks, such as the following:


  • Assisting patients with standing, walking, and turning
  • Taking patients’ vital signs, such as temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
  • Serving patients meals and assisting with eating
  • Helping patients with basic needs, such as dressing and oral care

Understanding the Right Way to Delegate

Delegation is an important leadership skill. To delegate effectively, nurse leaders must know the right way to delegate. That means deciding which tasks to assign, when to assign them, and how to follow up on those tasks.


The national guidelines for nursing delegation, outlined by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and the American Nurses Association (ANA), provide useful guidance for nurse leaders.

Make Sure That Delegated Tasks Are in the Scope of the Assignee’s Job Description

A CNA’s tasks are different from an RN’s. Before delegating a given task, nurse leaders must ensure that it falls in the scope of the assignee’s job description.


Delegating tasks outside their scope can mean that the assignee probably lacks the knowledge and skills to complete the assignment — and that puts patients at risk.

Make Sure That the Circumstances Are Right

Before delegating tasks, nurse leaders must check that the patient’s condition is stable.


Leaders must also instruct assignees on what to do if the patient’s condition changes. If the patient’s condition worsens, for example, the assignee should immediately communicate those changes for the leader to reassess the delegation.

Be Thorough in Communicating Directions

Delegation requires communication. When assigning tasks, nurse leaders must provide thorough, detailed instructions.


After communicating directions, nurse managers should give the assignee an opportunity to ask questions or request clarification. Next, leaders must address any questions or concerns that the assignee raises before assigning the task.

Follow Up with the Assigned Nurse to Ensure That the Delegated Activities Were Performed

After delegating a task, successful nurse leaders continue to monitor the assignment. That means tracking patient outcomes, checking that patient documentation remains up to date, and reviewing charts and medical records.


Nurse leaders must also regularly discuss delegated tasks with assigned nurses. Skill building is one of the primary benefits of delegation in nursing. By completing assignments from nurse managers, nurses gain skills and build confidence.

4 Benefits of Delegating in Nursing

Many nurse leaders don’t delegate enough. Nurse leaders who take on too many responsibilities are more likely to struggle, which harms the entire team.


Nurse managers can avoid the problem of too little delegation by understanding the many benefits of entrusting tasks to others.

1. Identify Potential and Areas for Growth

Delegating helps nurse leaders discover their potential and identify areas for personal growth. It also helps them identify the potential and growth opportunities of team members.


Nurse leaders must monitor assignees to identify their strengths, which is especially important for new nurses. Oversight helps leaders foster this benefit of delegation.

2. Advance and Grow Nursing Skills

Assigning tasks to RNs, LVNs, and CNAs helps them strengthen critical nursing skills. Delegation thus functions as a form of training.


By growing skills, assignees advance in their own path toward leadership roles.

3. Boost Cohesion and Strengthen Teams

Successful nursing units work as a team. Assigning tasks to others promotes teamwork by demonstrating trust and building cohesion.


Delegation can also improve communication and encourage engagement. When nurse managers build trust, team members are more likely to show initiative.

4. Increase Efficiency and Effectiveness

When nurse leaders take on tasks that could’ve been delegated, the department fails to use its staff and resources effectively.


Delegation makes units more efficient, which can translate to better patient outcomes.

Earn an Online MSN and Become a Great Leader

Nurses who want to strengthen their leadership skills can benefit from an advanced degree. Maryville University’s online MSN can help nurses gain the knowledge and skills necessary for leadership roles. MSN students take core courses on leadership and professional role development. With an MSN, nurses qualify for advanced practice and leadership roles.


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