Nurses get questioned on delegation and prioritization for a lot of good reasons. It allows for hospitals and clinical facilities to test their critical thinking and analytical skills, ability to make difficult, real-time decisions, and understanding of the big picture when it comes to getting things done in an orderly and safe fashion.

Although all practical and registered nurses will have already taken their NCLEX exam, it’s prudent to provide some delegation and prioritization questions and scenarios to assess whether they’re ready to join your team of nurses and medical professionals. 

What is Nursing Delegation and Prioritization?

Delegation and prioritization are critical aspects of becoming a nurse and, although they sound simple, are some of the most challenging topics a nurse can be tested on.

Delegation is when a licensed nurse (RN), or someone with equivalent qualifications, assigns responsibility to a subordinate who is able to complete that task. 

While this may sound easy, delegation is a difficult and critical part of being a good leader. It’s as much about getting things done in a timely manner as it is being able to cultivate and nourish lower-level nurses while balancing their workload. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful framework when thinking about prioritization because nurses need to think of their plan of action in a similar fashion. Having an understanding of the big picture will allow nurses to take the most vital and most important actions first. It’s the basis from which they can delegate action and respond to the needs of their patients. 

Questions on both delegation and prioritization aren’t some of the most difficult because health leaders want to challenge nurses; they’re some of the most difficult questions because they are that crucial to the everyday tasks and scenarios that nurses will face on the job. 

Nursing Delegation and Prioritization Questions

Below are some simple delegation and prioritization questions to incorporate into your interviews. 

  • How do you manage tending to multiple projects and patients in a single workday?
  • How do you know a nurse is ready to be given a task? What do you look for in a nurse when assessing their ability to manage these tasks?
  • What’s your typical work day from start to finish?
  • Describe a time when you successfully delegated a task and a time when you unsuccessfully delegated a task. What happened? And what was the difference between the successful delegation and the unsuccessful delegation. 
  • Describe a time you’ve felt overwhelmed at work. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a time where you missed a deadline. What happened? If you haven’t, what do you think is helping you in staying ahead?
  • How do you decide which tasks are delegated to specific team members?
  • Imagine you’ve been on vacation for a week and return to work with a pile of emails. How do you decide which ones to read and handle first?
  • Describe a time when you had to juggle care between several different patients. How did you do this without being overwhelmed?
  • What were some of the tools or techniques you used, either with programs/applications or simply on your own, to deal with a busy and fast-paced environment? 

Nursing Delegation and Prioritization Scenarios 

The following scenarios are NCLEX practice questions created by Nurselabs, an education and nursing resource dedicated to serving millions of nurses across the country. 

  1. After exposure to hot weather and sun, clients with signs and symptoms of heat-related ailment rush to the Emergency Department (ED). Sort clients into those who need critical attention and those with less serious conditions.
  • 1. An abandoned person who is a teacher, has altered mental state, weak muscle movement, hot, dry, pale skin; and whose duration of heat exposure is unknown.
  • 2. An elderly traffic enforcer who complains of dizziness and syncope after standing under the heat of the sun for several hours to perform his job.
  • 3. A comparatively healthy housewife who states that the air conditioner has been down for 5 days and who exhibits hypotension, tachypnea, profuse diaphoresis, and fatigue.
  • 4. A sportsman who complains of severe leg cramps and nausea, and displays paleness, tachycardia, weakness, and diaphoresis.

Correct Answer: 1,2,4,3

  1. Several clients arrive in the ED with the same complaint of abdominal pain. Designate them for care in order of the severity of their condition.
  • 1. A 12-year-old girl with a low-grade fever, anorexia, nausea, and right lower quadrant tenderness for the past 2 days
  • 2. A 25-year-old woman complaining of dizziness and severe left lower quadrant pain who states she is probably pregnant
  • 3. A 38-year-old man complaining of severe occasional cramps with three episodes of watery diarrhea hours after meal
  • 4. A 42-year-old woman with moderate right upper quadrant pain who has vomited little amounts of yellow bile and whose symptoms have worsened over the past week
  • 5. A 53-year-old man who experiences discomforting mid-epigastric pain that is worse between meals and during the night
  • 6. A 68-year-old man with a pulsating abdominal mass and sudden onset of “tearing” pain in the abdomen and flank within the past hour

Correct Answers: 6, 2, 1, 4, 3, 5

  1. The newly hired nurse is in his first week on the job in the ED. He used to be a traveling nurse for 5 years. Which area in his present job is the most appropriate assignment for him?
  • Fast-track clinic
  • Pediatric medicine team
  • Trauma team
  • Triage

Correct Answer: Fast-track clinic

  1. A client with multiple injuries is rushed to the ED after a head-on car collision. Which assessment finding takes priority?
  • Irregular apical pulse
  • Ecchymosis in the flank area
  • A deviated trachea
  • Unequal pupils

Correct Answer: A deviated trachea

Delegation, prioritization, critical thinking, leadership; these are all essential to what it means to be a successful nurse in today’s health industry. By properly assessing the analytical skills of your nurses through delegation and prioritization questions and scenarios, you can be one step closer to finding and hiring the most qualified nurses you come across. 

Final Thoughts: Nursing Delegation and Prioritization Questions and Scenarios

Medely is making it easier for health clinics and hospitals to find, vet, and book highly qualified professionals for their staffing needs. With access to the largest pool of qualified nurses in the US, you can start getting ahead of your staffing shortage and find the best care with Medely today.