Charge ain’t so easy!

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It’s hard to take charge on a floor where you are the new nurse. Heck, it’s hard to charge a floor no matter who you are, right?

As a nurse who is newly “in charge” I have been really struggling with how to make the most of my position without acting out. Ever had a charge nurse who “acted out?” I’m probably not the only person who has witnessed a charge nurse who goes overboard–or shirks from duty. And am I the only person who has seen a charge nurse throw a fit? Not pretty!

Plus, depending on what hospital and floor you work in, charge nursing can look very different. When I started as a new nurse, I had charge nurses over me with loads of experience who assigned patients, were at every delivery, and ok, did some hand holding. They also didn’t take any patients which left them free to do such things! I liked coming in and knowing which patient I had and knowing I had some support when the crap hit the fan, as it were.

Things are different in my new job. First of all, I am a newbie trying to charge other much more experienced nurses. And as charge, I don’t assign patients (instead, we pick our assignments when we come in)–which can be great and not-so-great!  Like when the assignments are deemed unfair or even worse, unsafe. I also take patients–which means I can be in a patient room for a couple hours at a time, and when I emerge I no longer know what is going on on my floor!

In fact, I am struggling with being charge “in name only” but yet still being responsible for the floor. I feel as if I have no say in anything, but when things go wrong, my head is up on the chopping block. I am responsible but feel I am unable to take action.

What makes a good charge nurse in a situation like mine? I have talked to my manager who is trying to change things–but we all know how change is resisted in nursing, so it’s a slow-go. Meanwhile I am assigned charge each night I work and feel pretty powerless to HELP. I am still working this all out in my head and trying to really figure out what this role looks like for me–and if I even want to continue in it!

I work on amazing floor, love my coworkers, and enjoy my job. Being charge is yet another learning opportunity that is adding to the stress of my job already. I’ll let you guys know how it pans out (and will try not to throw a fit)!

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