Mise en Place: A Chef's Theory Adapted to Nursing

Mise en Place is French for “putting everything in place.” Every chef in the world is familiar with the term, as it is the mantra used in restaurants around the world to ensure all ingredients are sliced, diced, and prepared so they are ready to quickly put into the pan as dinners are ordered. Towels are folded and stacked in a familiar place and knives, spoons, and whisks are lined up ready to use.


The chef can then function quickly, almost robotically, to allow his hands to do the work for him in preparing dishes. This muscle memory frees his brain up to work on higher-level thinking such as organizing the flow of food through the kitchen, communicating with other chefs, and monitoring the state of incoming orders.

This is a nursing blog. I’m aware. Mise en place can be stolen straight out of the finest restaurant kitchens in the world to be used in your nursing practice to ensure you are as efficient as the greatest chef. Mise en place doesn’t happen by accident or on its own; the universe doesn’t put all of your tools directly at your fingertips. You must take the time to organize yourself before rounding, after med pass, or any other time that you get the chance so you are ready for the next task. For me on a cardiac telemetry unit, my mise en place is done first thing when I come out of report and before my initial med pass.


We use med carts on my unit which I feel like I could never live without. See, I worked as a chef before going to nursing school and the thought of having my own med cart to organize and stock up gives me control over the universe. My day begins with ten minutes or so stocking the med cart, loading drawers with scheduled medications, and refilling useful items like flushes, alcohol preps, and IV caps. I discuss this preparation in greater detail in another article here. This ten-minute commitment each morning saves me SO many more minutes later in the day. It also saves time because I know where each of my items is located in the cart, allowing my hands to do the work reaching for everything while my brain is critically thinking about my patients.


Mise en place also relates to having everything necessary to complete a specific task to avoid trips to the supply room. For instance, if you are placing a Foley catheter, making sure you have sterile gloves (plus an extra pair just in case), skin prep, and a statlock...all the tools you will need so you can go in and out of the room once. This extra level of preparation has proven to be an incredible time-saver, especially when working in isolation rooms.


Whether you are searing scallops or treating heart failure patients, I hope you will use mise en place to organize yourself. Optimize your workflow throughout the shift and take advantage of your newfound efficiency to spend more time at the bedside for the safety and benefit of your patients.


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