SBAR Nursing Guide: Template, Examples, and Essential Tips for Nursing Students

Effective communication is a cornerstone of patient care in the nursing profession. Among the various communication tools, the SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) technique is a vital framework that helps nurses convey critical information efficiently and accurately. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the SBAR nursing guide, providing nursing students with a detailed template, real-world examples, and essential tips to master this invaluable communication tool.

Understanding the SBAR Nursing Guide

What is SBAR?

SBAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. The U.S. Navy initially developed this structured communication technique for use in the nuclear submarine service, and has since been adopted across various healthcare settings, especially in nursing.(SBAR nursing guide)

(SBAR nursing guide)

Why is SBAR Important?

SBAR is a crucial tool in nursing as it:

  • Enhances patient safety by ensuring the clear and concise transfer of information.
  • Promotes teamwork and collaboration among healthcare providers.
  • Reduces the risk of miscommunication or misunderstanding.(SBAR nursing guide)

When to Use SBAR?

Nursing students should use the SBAR technique in situations that require prompt and efficient communication, such as:

  • Handing off patient care during shift changes.
  • Reporting critical changes in a patient’s condition.(SBAR nursing guide)
  • Communicating with physicians or other healthcare team members.

The SBAR Template

Now, let’s delve into the SBAR template, which consists of four key components:

  • Situation: This is where you describe the patient’s current condition and why you are calling or communicating. It’s the “What’s happening right now?” part of the SBAR.(SBAR nursing guide)
  • Background: In this section, provide relevant information about the patient’s medical history, allergies, current medications, and any recent changes. This offers context to the situation.
  • Assessment: Share your professional assessment of the patient’s condition. Highlight vital signs, symptoms, or any abnormalities you’ve observed. Be specific and concise.(SBAR nursing guide)
  • Recommendation: Suggest what actions you believe should be taken. This can include interventions, tests, or consultations. Ensure your recommendations are appropriate and evidence-based.

Examples of SBAR in Nursing

Example 1: Handing Off Patient Care

Situation: “I’m calling to hand off the care of Mr. Smith in room 302. His heart rate has been consistently elevated at 110 beats per minute, and he’s complaining of severe chest pain.”(SBAR nursing guide)

Background: “Mr. Smith is a 65-year-old male with a history of coronary artery disease and hypertension. He’s currently on a beta-blocker, but he has a known allergy to aspirin.”

Assessment: “I’ve assessed Mr. Smith, and his blood pressure is 160/90 mm Hg, his oxygen saturation is 94% on room air, and his EKG shows ST-segment depressions.”(SBAR nursing guide)

Recommendation: “I recommend contacting the cardiologist immediately, administering nitroglycerin, and monitoring his cardiac rhythm closely.”

Example 2: Reporting Critical Changes

Situation: “I need to report a significant change in Mrs. Johnson’s condition. She was stable during my last assessment, but now she is short of breath and her oxygen saturation has dropped to 88%.”(SBAR nursing guide)

Background: “Mrs. Johnson is a 72-year-old patient with a history of COPD and a recent pneumonia diagnosis. She’s been receiving oxygen at 2 liters per minute.”

Assessment: “I’ve rechecked her vital signs, and her heart rate is 110 beats per minute, respiratory rate is 30 breaths per minute, and her breath sounds are diminished bilaterally.”(SBAR nursing guide)

Recommendation: “I recommend initiating a non-rebreather mask at 15 liters per minute, notifying the respiratory therapist, and requesting a chest X-ray.”

Essential Tips for Using SBAR

  • Be Clear and Concise: Keep your communication brief and to the point. Avoid unnecessary details.
  • Use Standardized Terminology: Utilize medical terminology and abbreviations that are familiar to your audience to avoid misunderstandings.(SBAR nursing guide)
  • Practice Active Listening: When receiving an SBAR report, actively listen and ask clarifying questions if needed.
  • Stay Calm Under Pressure: In high-stress situations, the SBAR framework can help you stay organized and focused.(SBAR nursing guide)
  • Document Your Communication: Record SBAR interactions in the patient’s chart to maintain a clear record of events and actions taken.


Mastering the SBAR nursing guide is a fundamental skill for nursing students. It empowers you to communicate effectively, ensuring patient safety and collaboration within the healthcare team. By following the SBAR template and studying real-world examples, you can become a proficient SBAR communicator, making a positive impact on patient care.(SBAR nursing guide)

Remember, effective communication is at the heart of nursing, and the SBAR technique is a powerful tool in your arsenal. As you progress in your nursing career, refining your SBAR skills will enable you to provide the best possible care to your patients.

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FAQ – SBAR Nursing Guide

  1. What is the primary purpose of using the SBAR nursing guide?

The primary purpose of using the SBAR nursing guide is to ensure clear and concise communication of critical information, enhancing patient safety and promoting effective teamwork among healthcare providers.(SBAR nursing guide)

  1. Can SBAR be used in written communication as well?

Yes, SBAR can be adapted for written communication, such as in nursing notes or electronic health records, to maintain a consistent and structured approach to conveying information.

  1. Is SBAR only used during emergencies?

No, SBAR is not limited to emergencies. It can be used in various healthcare scenarios, including routine patient handoffs, reporting changes in patient conditions, and communicating with other members of the healthcare team.

  1. What should I do if the person I’m communicating with doesn’t understand SBAR terminology?

If someone doesn’t understand SBAR terminology, it’s essential to provide clarification and, if necessary, use plain language to ensure effective communication.(SBAR nursing guide)

  1. How can I improve my SBAR communication skills?

To improve your SBAR communication skills, practice regularly, seek feedback from experienced nurses, and familiarize yourself with medical terminology and abbreviations commonly used in your healthcare setting.(SBAR nursing guide)


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