Orient the Charge Nurse?

Three steps to ensure new charge nurses are successful « Nursing Notes.

No seriously, I’m not kidding, actually orient the charge nurse.  It’s not throw them to the wolves and let ‘er rip?  Odd way of thinking, right?  It’s not however and it’s something that is rarely done.

It’s funny, for an organization that tries to be pro-active with their staff, give them opportunities for education and growth and support their leaders, mine does a piss poor job.

Orientation was three days, the last of which I was on my own while my “preceptor” watched tele due to a sick call.  Mostly it was, “Here are the things you need to do. ”  There was no talk about responsibility, choices, what the other nurses were going to ask of me.  Nothing to truly prepare me for being a charge nurse.

And a preceptor past orientation?  That is about as funny as leadership development.  We talk a big talk.  Have had several conferences that were really not much more than expensive opportunities to talk a big talk but not have any sort of follow up.  Of ideas that were discussed in the last two events, not a single one has re-surfaced.  Not one.  Many were dismissed outright before we even left the conference.

In spite of the lack of support (mostly), I’ve learned.  Learned to juggle being a mentor/resource to newer nurses (and even some more experienced nurses), being a hard-ass when needed, leading from the front rather than sitting at a desk, taking my own patient load and still managing to do the things my manager expects us charge nurses to do like the minutiae of paperwork, flexing staff when not needed and balancing the load as able.

It might have been easier had I been supported and given a structured training, but with typical fatalism, I say, “It is what it is.”  I still get the feeling at times from my manager that I’m missing something, that there is something else I should be doing, but I can’t figure out what it is.  But I get validation in the best way:  from patients and my fellow nurses.  When a nurse is glad that you’re in charge versus another, it feels good and tells me that I’m doing something right after all.


One Comment

  1. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am glad to see that you enjoyed the article about charge nursing. As a charge nurse on my floor and a relief house supervisor for my hospital, I can echo your comments and then some. You are probably doing everything expected and then some no matter what the reaction is from your manager. If the patients are well cared for and the staff feel safe and supported, you have more than done your job. Thanks again for the visit.


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