What it takes to be a charge nurse

charge-nurse
Image: Chris Ryan/OJO Images/Getty Images

I’ve talked in the past about how I recognize excellence in my nursing staff, but I thought I would talk about what I look for when I am looking for a new charge nurse.  I know there are many of you out there that may be at that point in their career when they are considering being a charge nurse.

I have very high expectations of my charge nurses, because a lot was expected of my when I was a charge nurse.  A charge nurse is the first step in the leadership of the unit and need to be able to run the unit without the manager being there.  If they don’t know the answers that staff members come to them with, they need to know where to find the answers.

A charge nurses needs to be able to confront a staff member and correct negative behaviors immediately and be able to praise positive behaviors immediately.  Then need to be able to manage the flow of the unit and help out the hospital by knowing when to help the other units, or even when to refuse a patient when they feel the acuity of the patient and/or the unit is too high.  They also need to be a teacher.

What I look for is excellent clinical skills, the ability to stay calm when things are crazy or in a crisis situation and somebody that is truly a team player.  I also look for somebody that is not afraid to tell their team members when they did something wrong AND explain to them/teach them what the correct way to do it is.

Charge nurses are what hold the units together.  They are the go between for the staff and the manager and need to be able to communicate with both.

Actually, sounds like a more difficult job than mine.

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