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Leadership wisdom from a reluctant charge nurse

Being a charge nurse is kind of like babysitting for a large group of adults. I hate babysitting. I never did it when I was a kid and I hate doing it now. Most of the time being in charge is just an exercise in problem solving but sometimes — oy vey! — people really try your patience. “So-and-so is being mean to me.” “So-and -so won’t let me go on break on time.” “So-and-so won’t share the cookies with me.” Ah, the whining!!!!

But when the you-know-what hits the fan, usually everyone pulls together and works as a team. I have a magnet on my fridge that says, “Leadership is the ability to hide your panic from others.” So whenever I’m in charge, I try to stay calm, cool and collected even if I feel like I’m going to burst. Staff members look to you to set the tone for the department and an out-of-control charge nurse will soon be leading a crazed pack of medical staff.

When you find yourself in charge, just remember to smile, don’t take yourself too seriously, pay attention and remember this — you get to give these kids back to their parents at the end of your shift.

What’s your definition of leadership?

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Rebekah Child

Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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