Frustrated charge nurse

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On a recent shift,  a physician pulled me aside to tell me she did not have confidence in one of my coworkers. Now, what am I supposed to do with that information? Oh yeah, and I was the charge nurse that night. Frankly, I was helpless to do much of anything except handhold and babysit–which doubled my work load and really frustrated me.

Recently we have been short staffed, and there are some deficiencies in some of the newly acquired nurses. And I’m not the only person frustrated by what is happening around me on the night shift: I’ve heard that one of my coworkers keeps 3×5 cards on nurses they don’t trust and records when they screw up. I guess they are hoping to glean enough ammo to get someone fired and they must feel powerless to do anything but record instances. And my other coworkers have been talking a lot about how bad things are with the staff. The complaining is constant.

So what do I do as a charge nurse when coworkers are not cutting it? When I know someone on the team is not a team player and is frankly not up to snuff? Frankly, I don’t think there is much I CAN do. I’ve stated my case up the chain of command and nada. people have been confronted and nada.

The reality I’ve witnessed, over and over in my nursing career, is that we nurses work with people (other docs and nurses alike) who don’t always know what they are doing, who don’t always help their coworkers, who make LOTS of mistakes, and who frankly aren’t very good at what they do. It happens.

And from my experience, these people don’t lose their jobs very easily. So what can we do to help aleviate some of the problem for the unit? Like I said, aside from hand-holding, reporting, and babysitting, not much.

It is alarming to see a unit staffed with sub-par people–especially a unit I am responsible for at night–but as a charge nurse the only thing I can do is state the expectation, report when things go wrong, and hold my breath and pray the rest of the time. Oh, and work my butt off.

Plus I can always note the positive: there IS lots of room for improvement!

Although I hate to say it, leaving the shift with a sigh of a relief that “no one died” is becoming a more common occurrence. And really, that just isn’t good enough for me. What has happened to excellence and good work ethics in health care?

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