[ANSWERED 2023] What does your State Board of Nursing say about Unlicensed Assistive Personnel and their role, and the role of the Registered Nurse?

Last Updated on 08/22/2023 by Admin

What does your State Board of Nursing say about Unlicensed Assistive Personnel and their role, and the role of the Registered Nurse?

What does your State Board of Nursing say about Unlicensed Assistive Personnel and their role, and the role of the Registered Nurse? Describe the responsibilities of the Registered Nurse when delegating patient care tasks.

How does the ICU environment differ from a general medical-surgical unit as far as assigned responsibilities for Unlicensed Assistive Personnel?

What does your State Board of Nursing say about Unlicensed Assistive Personnel and their role, and the role of the Registered Nurse?

Expert Answer and Explanation

Delegation in Practice

To ensure high-quality patient care, every state has a board that oversees the roles of nurses and ensures that they are able and well prepared to handle their roles. Colorado’s State Board of Nursing ensures that nursing standards and policies are well implemented. The board oversees the license issuance and further stipulates the roles of different nursing professionals in the state (Board of Nursing, n.d).

As a result of their intervention, it is easy to understand the roles of different nurses and to ensure further that there is discipline among the nurses. There are varying nursing professionals, and the board has effectively covered the scope of their practice.

Role of the Unlicensed Assistive Personnel

According to the State of Colorado, unlicensed assistive personnel are people without any recognized knowledge in the medical field and, therefore, cannot be given complicated tasks involved in the field. The roles of the unlicensed assistive personnel are greatly limited, and a registered nurse only directs them. These can include caregivers, parents, and other personnel (Colorado Association of School Nurses 2015).

Notably, in many situations, the roles are only carried out when the nurse is unavailable, and the duties are easy to train and will not have devastating outcomes if done incorrectly.

The following are roles that can be delegated to unlicensed assistive personnel. Notably, for all the roles, the unlicensed assistive personnel must be well trained by the registered nurse. It is also important to ensure that the assistant is always available to monitor the patient’s progress and has access to 24/7 communication in case the patient’s conditions change abruptly (Colorado Association of School Nurses 2015).

  • Applying preventative diaper cream
  • Naso-gastric feeding
  • Emergency preservation of gastrostomy stoma
  • Clean intermittent catheter
  • Indwelling catheter care
  • Continuous positive airway pressure
  • Continuous monitoring of the oxygen supply
  • Subcutaneous continuous glucose monitoring
  • Administration of prescribed medications and emergency medications such as injections. It is paramount that the registered nurse prepare the unit dose
  • Pressure ulcer care
  • Collecting blood glucose Ketone

Role of the Registered Nurse In Delegating Patient Care Task

The registered nurse is responsible for delegating and supervising the delegating tasks and can be considered to be responsible for the tasks that are not well performed. This means the nurse has legal implications for the tasks delegated to the unlicensed assistive personnel. To ensure that the task is well performed, the nurse must ensure the following:

  • That the instructions for the procedure being delegated be specific and broken down into easy individual components
  • The steps for the task being delegated must be well documented
  • The documentation of each document must be made accompanied by the signs of the delegator and the delegatee
  • The nursing procedure can be delegated after the delegate has shown competence through the training process
  • The registered nurse must determine the frequency of evaluation
  • It is also the role of the registered nurse to document all the errors committed to carrying out the tasks and further note that all the corrective actions are taken.
  • It is also important to ensure that the task delegated is within the nurse’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  • It is also the nurse’s role to ensure that the unlicensed assistive personnel is competent and can safely perform the task.
  • The nurse must ensure that the roles do not require nursing judgment.

How The ICU Environment Differ From The General Medical-Surgical Unit As Far As Assigning Responsibilities For The Unlicensed Assistive Personnel

There is no information about the ICU environment and the general medical surgical unit when considering the responsibilities or the unlicensed assistive personnel. However, when considering the general practice of nurses in states, it is clear that there is no unlicensed assistive personnel allowed in the ICU environment as the patients are high risks and can only be taken care of by licensed personnel.

However, some hospital environments have allowed nursing assistants in the general medical-surgical unit. According to Twigg et al. (2016), it is important to understand the role of assistants in the nursing wards through the study, and there were adverse outcomes in matters such as increased urinary tract infections, failure to rescue, and falls with injury.

This shows the adverse consequences of having the assistants working directly on patients’ care. However, there is an observed decrease in mortality in the wards (Griffiths et al. 2019). The authors noted that with a perfect address of the roles of the assistant and clearly describing their role while working under the direct supervision of the nurses, it could be possible to ensure that there are no adverse consequences to the patients.


Unlicensed assistive personnel is integral to patient care, especially when a registered nurse is not always available to perform the procedure. However, it is also notable that it is paramount for the registered nurse to give instructions on how the procedure should be carried out, as the legal responsibility of caring for the patient is still with the registered nurse.

In the hospital setup, unlicensed assistive personnel is not advocated for as the patients are in less stable conditions, and a small mess-up can cost the life of the patients.


Board of Nursing. (n.d). Title 12 Division of Professions and Occupations Article 25 Nurses and Nurse Aides. Board of Nursing. Practice Act and Laws. . https://dpo.colorado.gov/Nursing/Laws

Colorado Association of School Nurses. (2015). Guidance on Delegation for Colorado School Nurses & Child Care Consultants. https://www.cde.state.co.us/healthandwellness/guidanceondelegationforschoolnurses

Griffiths, P., Maruotti, A., Saucedo, A. R., Redfern, O. C., Ball, J. E., Briggs, J., … & Smith, G. B. (2019). Nurse staffing, nursing assistants and hospital mortality: retrospective longitudinal cohort study. BMJ quality & safety28(8), 609-617.

Twigg, D. E., Myers, H., Duffield, C., Pugh, J. D., Gelder, L., & Roche, M. (2016). The impact of adding assistants in nursing to acute care hospital ward nurse staffing on adverse patient outcomes: An analysis of administrative health data. International Journal of Nursing Studies63, 189-200.

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Delegation in Nursing: Empowering Efficient and Collaborative Care

In the dynamic and multifaceted field of nursing, delegation emerges as a pivotal concept that underpins effective patient care, promotes teamwork, and optimizes resource allocation. At its core, delegation involves the deliberate transfer of responsibilities from a registered nurse to other members of the healthcare team, while still maintaining accountability for the overall outcomes. This strategic distribution of tasks not only ensures that patient needs are met promptly but also facilitates a collaborative environment where each healthcare professional can contribute their expertise.

The Essence of Delegation

In the fast-paced and demanding healthcare environment, delegation serves as a practical solution to manage workloads efficiently and allocate resources judiciously. Registered nurses, with their comprehensive training and clinical knowledge, often find themselves in positions where they can delegate certain tasks to nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, or other qualified personnel. The primary goal of delegation is to balance the workload, prevent burnout, and ensure that every patient receives the care they deserve.

The Delegation Process

Delegation is not a simple act of passing on tasks; rather, it follows a structured process that requires careful assessment and communication. The steps involved in effective delegation include:

  1. Assessment: The registered nurse assesses the patient’s needs, the complexity of the task, and the competence of the healthcare team members. This evaluation guides the decision-making process of what tasks can be appropriately delegated.
  2. Selection: Based on the assessment, the nurse selects the tasks that can be safely delegated without compromising patient safety or quality of care.
  3. Communication: Clear and concise communication is crucial during delegation. The nurse should communicate the task’s specifics, expected outcomes, and any pertinent patient information to the delegate.
  4. Supervision: While the task is being carried out, the registered nurse maintains a supervisory role, providing guidance, answering questions, and addressing any concerns that may arise.
  5. Evaluation: Once the task is completed, the nurse evaluates the outcomes to ensure that the desired results were achieved. This step is crucial for continuous improvement and learning.

Benefits of Delegation

Delegation in nursing offers several key benefits that contribute to the overall efficiency and quality of patient care:

  1. Enhanced Patient Care: By effectively delegating tasks, registered nurses can focus on critical and complex patient needs, ensuring that care is tailored and comprehensive.
  2. Team Collaboration: Delegation fosters a culture of collaboration, where each team member’s skills and expertise are leveraged for the benefit of the patient.
  3. Skill Development: Delegates have the opportunity to expand their skill set and knowledge, which can contribute to their professional growth.
  4. Time Management: Delegation enables nurses to manage their time more efficiently, leading to increased productivity and reduced stress.
  5. Improved Job Satisfaction: Nurses who delegate effectively experience improved job satisfaction as they can focus on tasks aligned with their expertise.

Ethical Considerations

While delegation streamlines healthcare delivery, it also comes with ethical considerations. Nurses must ensure that tasks are delegated within the scope of practice of the delegate and that patients’ safety and well-being remain the top priority. Open communication, trust, and a clear understanding of responsibilities are essential to navigate these ethical dilemmas.


Delegation in nursing represents a strategic and essential approach to providing high-quality patient care within a collaborative healthcare framework. Through well-structured processes, effective communication, and adherence to ethical principles, delegation empowers nurses to optimize their efforts, create synergistic teams, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. By embracing delegation as a tool for resource optimization and professional growth, the nursing profession can continue to evolve and thrive in the ever-changing landscape of healthcare.

5 Key Principles of Delegation in Nursing for Effective Patient Care

Delegation in nursing is a skill that plays a critical role in delivering efficient and comprehensive patient care. To ensure safe and successful delegation, nurses must adhere to a set of guiding principles that prioritize patient well-being, teamwork, and effective communication. Here are the five key principles of delegation in nursing:

1. Clear Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful delegation. Nurses must communicate clearly and precisely when assigning tasks to other members of the healthcare team. This includes providing a detailed explanation of the task, the desired outcomes, any potential risks or concerns, and the timeline for completion. By ensuring that all parties involved have a thorough understanding of the task and its requirements, nurses can prevent misunderstandings and promote a smooth workflow.

2. Appropriate Task Assignment

Assigning tasks that are appropriate for the skill level and competency of the delegate is crucial. Nurses should assess the delegate’s training, experience, and capabilities before assigning any task. Matching the complexity of the task to the delegate’s skill set not only ensures patient safety but also empowers the delegate to perform the task with confidence and competence.

3. Supervision and Oversight

While delegation involves entrusting tasks to others, it does not absolve the nurse of their responsibility. Nurses remain accountable for the outcomes of the tasks they delegate. Therefore, it is essential for nurses to provide adequate supervision and oversight throughout the task’s execution. Regular check-ins, availability for questions, and monitoring progress are all part of the nurse’s role in ensuring that the task is carried out successfully.

4. Clear Expectations

Both the nurse delegating the task and the delegate must have clear expectations. The nurse should communicate the expected outcomes, quality standards, and any specific guidelines that need to be followed. Similarly, the delegate should have a clear understanding of their role, the task’s requirements, and any necessary protocols. Clear expectations set the stage for successful task completion and help prevent errors or misinterpretations.

5. Feedback and Evaluation

Delegation is a continuous process that involves ongoing feedback and evaluation. After the task is completed, nurses should provide constructive feedback to the delegate. Positive feedback reinforces confidence and competence, while constructive feedback offers opportunities for improvement. Additionally, evaluating the overall effectiveness of the delegation process allows nurses to identify areas for enhancement and refine their delegation skills over time.


In the complex world of nursing, effective delegation is essential for delivering safe, high-quality patient care. By adhering to the principles of clear communication, appropriate task assignment, supervision, clear expectations, and feedback, nurses can foster a collaborative and supportive healthcare environment. These principles not only enhance patient outcomes but also contribute to the growth and development of the entire healthcare team. Embracing these principles enables nurses to optimize their skills, prioritize patient well-being, and navigate the challenges of modern healthcare delivery successfully.

The Scope of Delegation: Tasks Nurses Can Delegate to Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (UAP)

In the intricate realm of healthcare, the collaboration between nurses and Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (UAP) is pivotal in delivering efficient and comprehensive patient care. Delegation allows nurses to focus on tasks that require their specialized training and expertise, while UAPs contribute to the overall workflow by assisting with specific duties. However, it’s crucial to recognize the scope of tasks that can be safely and appropriately delegated to UAPs, ensuring patient safety remains paramount. Here are some examples of tasks that nurses can delegate to UAPs:

1. Vital Signs Monitoring

UAPs can play a vital role in monitoring and recording patients’ vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature. Regular vital signs checks are crucial for detecting any changes in a patient’s condition, and UAPs can efficiently perform this task under the supervision and guidance of a nurse.

2. Basic Hygiene and Patient Care

UAPs are well-equipped to provide basic hygiene and patient care. This includes assisting patients with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting. UAPs can also help with turning and repositioning patients to prevent pressure ulcers and ensure comfort.

3. Feeding Assistance

UAPs can assist patients with feeding, ensuring that patients receive their meals and fluids according to their dietary requirements. While UAPs can help patients with self-feeding, they can also assist with feeding patients who require support due to physical limitations or other health conditions.

4. Mobility and Ambulation

Helping patients move safely within the healthcare facility is another task that can be delegated to UAPs. They can assist patients in walking, transferring from bed to chair, and using mobility aids under the guidance of a nurse. Proper mobility support contributes to patients’ comfort and prevents complications.

5. Specimen Collection

Under the nurse’s supervision, UAPs can collect specimens such as urine samples, stool samples, and basic wound cultures. Nurses provide clear instructions and ensure that proper infection control measures are followed during the collection process.

6. Non-Sterile Dressing Changes

UAPs can assist with changing non-sterile dressings on minor wounds, abrasions, or incision sites that are healing well. Nurses should provide detailed instructions and closely monitor the healing progress to ensure that the wound is properly cared for.

7. Routine Documentation

UAPs can contribute to routine documentation, such as recording intake and output measurements, patient activities, and changes in patients’ conditions. Accurate documentation is essential for tracking patients’ progress and ensuring continuity of care.

8. Assistance with Transport

UAPs can assist in transporting patients within the healthcare facility, such as to diagnostic tests, procedures, or different units. Ensuring safe and comfortable patient transport contributes to a positive patient experience.


Delegating tasks to UAPs is a strategic approach that optimizes the workflow in healthcare settings while ensuring that patient safety and well-being are maintained. By understanding the scope of tasks that can be delegated, nurses can create a collaborative environment where each member of the healthcare team contributes to the delivery of high-quality patient care. Effective delegation requires clear communication, supervision, and ongoing evaluation to ensure that tasks are executed accurately and safely.

Examples of Improper Delegation in Nursing: Risks and Consequences

Delegation in nursing is a crucial skill that, when executed correctly, enhances patient care and workflow efficiency. However, improper delegation can lead to adverse outcomes and compromise patient safety. Understanding the boundaries of delegation is essential to avoid potential risks. Here are some examples of improper delegation in nursing:

1. Complex Medication Administration

Delegating the administration of complex medications, such as high-risk medications with intricate dosage calculations, to unlicensed personnel is improper delegation. Medication administration requires a thorough understanding of drug interactions, potential side effects, and proper dosage adjustments based on patient conditions.

2. Initial Patient Assessments

Assigning the initial assessment of a patient to unlicensed personnel is improper delegation. Registered nurses possess the training and knowledge to conduct comprehensive assessments that form the basis for developing care plans. Delegating this responsibility can delay timely interventions and compromise patient outcomes.

3. Patient Discharge Planning

Delegating the entire patient discharge planning process to unlicensed personnel is improper. Discharge planning involves complex considerations, including medication reconciliation, follow-up appointments, and patient education. Nurses play a pivotal role in ensuring a safe transition from the hospital to the community.

4. Diagnostic Decision-Making

Delegating the interpretation of diagnostic results, such as laboratory tests or radiology reports, to unlicensed personnel is improper delegation. These tasks require clinical judgment and expertise to assess the significance of findings and make informed decisions regarding patient care.

5. Complex Wound Care

Delegating the management of complex wounds, such as stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers, to unlicensed personnel is improper delegation. Proper wound care involves assessing wound stages, selecting appropriate dressings, and preventing infection, all of which demand nursing expertise.

6. Patient Education on New Diagnoses

Delegating the responsibility of educating patients about new medical diagnoses, treatment options, and potential complications to unlicensed personnel is improper. Patient education requires a deep understanding of medical conditions, treatment modalities, and the ability to address patient questions and concerns.

7. Critical Situations

Delegating tasks during critical situations, such as cardiac arrests or rapid deteriorations, to unlicensed personnel is improper. Timely and appropriate interventions during emergencies demand immediate nursing expertise and decision-making.

8. Intravenous Medication Titration

Delegating the titration of intravenous medications, especially those with narrow therapeutic windows, to unlicensed personnel is improper. Adjusting IV medication dosages requires a comprehensive understanding of the medication’s effects and the patient’s response.

9. Patient Admission Assessments

Assigning patient admission assessments solely to unlicensed personnel is improper delegation. Admission assessments provide the baseline data for patient care plans and help identify any immediate concerns that require nursing interventions.

10. Patient Discharge Education

Delegating the entire patient discharge education process to unlicensed personnel is improper. Nurses possess the knowledge and experience to ensure that patients and their families receive thorough instructions, understand medication regimens, and are prepared for self-care post-discharge.


Proper delegation in nursing is essential for maintaining patient safety and delivering effective care. Recognizing the limits of delegation and avoiding the examples mentioned above is crucial in preventing potential harm to patients. Nurses must ensure that delegated tasks align with the scope of practice of the assigned personnel, promoting collaborative care while safeguarding the well-being of patients.

Case Study: The Consequences of Improper Delegation in Nursing

In a bustling urban hospital, the importance of proper delegation was underscored through a case that brought to light the potential risks and consequences of failing to adhere to established delegation principles. This case study sheds light on the implications of improper delegation in nursing and emphasizes the vital role that nurses play in maintaining patient safety.

The Setting

In the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU), the nursing team was responsible for providing intensive care to post-operative patients recovering from complex surgeries. This demanding environment required efficient collaboration among the nursing staff, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Scenario

One evening, amidst a flurry of patient admissions and discharges, the charge nurse was approached by a junior registered nurse (RN) who was overwhelmed with her patient load. She requested assistance from a Nursing Assistant (NA) to administer medication to a critically ill patient who required meticulous monitoring.

Improper Delegation

The charge nurse, under pressure to address the mounting workload, delegated the administration of a potent IV medication to the Nursing Assistant without considering the potential consequences. The medication had a narrow therapeutic window and required constant vigilance for adverse reactions. Despite the NA’s willingness to help, this was a prime example of improper delegation.

The Consequences

As the medication was administered by the NA, the patient’s condition began to deteriorate rapidly. The NA, lacking the expertise to recognize the subtle signs of a medication reaction, was unable to respond effectively. The patient’s distress escalated, leading to a critical situation that demanded immediate intervention.

Nursing Intervention

The charge nurse, realizing the gravity of the situation, intervened promptly. She summoned the physician, other registered nurses, and the rapid response team to stabilize the patient. The patient’s condition was stabilized after intense medical intervention, but this incident served as a sobering reminder of the risks associated with improper delegation.

Lessons Learned

This case study underscores the critical importance of adhering to proper delegation principles in nursing. Delegating tasks that require clinical judgment, medical expertise, and the ability to recognize and respond to complications can jeopardize patient safety and outcomes. Nurses play an irreplaceable role in the healthcare team, ensuring that tasks are delegated appropriately and that patients receive the level of care they deserve.


The case study highlighted the potential repercussions of improper delegation in a high-stakes healthcare environment. It serves as a reminder that effective delegation is not only about offloading tasks but also about maintaining patient safety and promoting positive outcomes. Through comprehensive assessment, clear communication, and a deep understanding of each team member’s capabilities, nurses can navigate the complexities of healthcare delivery while ensuring that patient well-being remains at the forefront of care.

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The Importance of Delegation in Nursing: Optimizing Care and Collaboration

Delegation in nursing is a cornerstone skill that plays a pivotal role in ensuring efficient patient care delivery, promoting teamwork, and maximizing the utilization of healthcare resources. In a fast-paced and multifaceted healthcare landscape, delegation empowers registered nurses to focus on critical responsibilities while entrusting appropriate tasks to other members of the healthcare team. The significance of delegation in nursing cannot be overstated, as it not only enhances patient outcomes but also contributes to a harmonious and productive healthcare environment.

1. Enhancing Patient Care

Delegation enables nurses to allocate their time and expertise strategically. By delegating tasks that do not require their specific skill set, nurses can concentrate on complex assessments, critical decision-making, and patient education. This ultimately leads to a higher standard of patient care, as nurses are able to provide focused and specialized attention to patients with acute needs.

2. Optimizing Workload

In the bustling healthcare environment, nurses often juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously. Delegating tasks such as vital signs monitoring, patient hygiene, and routine documentation to qualified personnel alleviates the workload burden. This not only prevents burnout among nursing staff but also ensures that tasks are completed promptly and accurately.

3. Promoting Team Collaboration

Delegation fosters a collaborative atmosphere within the healthcare team. By entrusting tasks to nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, and other team members, nurses create an environment where each member’s skills are acknowledged and utilized. Team members collaborate seamlessly to achieve common goals, enhancing the overall quality of patient care.

4. Developing Skills

Delegation provides valuable growth opportunities for unlicensed personnel. By assigning appropriate tasks to nursing assistants, they gain hands-on experience, expand their skill set, and contribute to patient care in a meaningful way. This not only improves their competence but also boosts their confidence and overall job satisfaction.

5. Effective Resource Allocation

Delegation optimizes the allocation of resources, ensuring that healthcare professionals are deployed efficiently. With nurses focusing on higher-level tasks, healthcare organizations can deploy their workforce effectively, making the best use of each team member’s expertise.

6. Time Management

Delegating routine and repetitive tasks allows nurses to manage their time more effectively. This enables them to provide comprehensive care, engage in patient education, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop comprehensive care plans.

7. Continuity of Care

Delegation facilitates continuity of care, even during shift changes. When appropriate tasks are delegated and documented effectively, incoming nurses can seamlessly pick up where their colleagues left off, ensuring that patient care remains consistent.

8. Professional Growth

Effective delegation enhances nurses’ leadership skills. Nurses learn how to assess tasks, select the appropriate delegate, communicate clearly, and provide supervision. These skills contribute to their overall professional development and equip them for future leadership roles.


In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, delegation in nursing emerges as a fundamental strategy for delivering high-quality patient care while fostering collaboration and resource optimization. The importance of delegation transcends individual tasks; it symbolizes the collective effort of the healthcare team in working together to prioritize patient safety, well-being, and overall positive outcomes. By recognizing the significance of delegation and mastering the art of task distribution, nurses can not only elevate patient care but also contribute to a more efficient and cohesive healthcare environment.

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