SBAR for Nursing Students & New Nurses

One of the things that used to freak me out a little bit when I first started nursing school was how our instructors wanted us to tell them about our patients. Honestly, after working in Labor & Delivery for 10 years, I was much more nervous about reporting to the instructor than I was ever calling a doctor….even in the middle of the night. I had heard about SBAR at the hospital I work at, but had never used it or seen anything around the unit describing how to use it.

What is SBAR?

SBAR is an acronym to help you keep track of all of the information you need to have ready when you call a physician or nurse practitioner about your patient. It stands for:


Let’s break it down further.

Situation – What’s going on with your patient? Why are you calling the doctor? Is their blood pressure up? Are they getting ready to give birth?
Background – A little bit about the history of your patient. I will usually put this as “You may remember him. He is the one that came to the ER in DKA” or something along those lines.
Assessment – What is your assessment of the patient? Has the blood pressure changed? Are his sugars out of control?
Recommendation – What do you want for your patient? Do you think your patient needs to be moved to the ICU? Does the doctor need to come in right away for delivery? A lot of people have trouble with this part. You are a nurse (or will be one soon)! The doctor expects you to make recommendations for the benefit of your patient.

I have made a little SBAR cheat sheet paper available in the download section or HERE. You can cut each  and get 3 uses out of each sheet. I fill out the SBAR portion before calling, then write in the information at the top, such as doctor’s name and phone number that way you make sure you have all of the information you need before calling and be super confident in your call. Just make sure you shred it when you are done!

If there are any problems you guys might be having with different aspects of nursing school, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I will work on a template for you!

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