Forced to be in charge before I'm ready.

  1. Hello friends,

    I've been working in my psych unit for all of 5 months. I've been a nurse for a year and a half, and this is my first hospital position. Despite my protesting to my manager that I am not ready to be in charge, she insists. The FT nurses and some of the part timers rotate being in charge. She basically told me I have to start being in charge because she needs somebody to do it. There aren't many FT nurses on my shift, and one of them just went out on maternity leave. The manager makes it sound like I'm not being a team player by not wanting to be in charge and share the responsibility that all of the nurses have (even though not all of them have it.) I feel extremely frustrated. I'm sure I'm competent, and I'll manage because I don't have a choice. But it just isn't right, I should be allowed to have more experience before I'm put in charge, and the whole situation has me so frustrated, it makes it hard to show up on the floor every day.

    Has anybody else been put in this sort of situation? What did you do? How did you handle it?

    Thank you!
  2. Visit cherubhipster profile page

    About cherubhipster

    Joined: Nov '07; Posts: 197; Likes: 56
    from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in psych, ltc, case management


  3. by   MN-Nurse
    Quote from cherubhipster
    hello friends,

    i've been working in my psych unit for all of 5 months. i've been a nurse for a year and a half,
    from that little header thingy above your post, "
    cherubhipster has '3' year(s) of nursing experience..."
    which is it?

    anyway, what kind of orientation are they providing for you to work charge?
  4. by   cherubhipster
    oh! That 3 years is including nursing school. I guess I shouldn't count that?

    Orientation- two days shadowing another charge. That's it.
  5. by   Miller86
    I was put being in charge when I was a new Grad and only 4 months of experience outside of school. All the new grads on our floor share the responsibility too. You'll gradually feel comfortable as you work being in charge. For me the only thing I dislike is being "in charge" and having a full patient load like everyone else and all the other little things that may pop up. Then people expect me to do certain tasks for them (ex. "my pt is poor can you call Dr.SoSo" which I have zero time for because my patients need me! It seems more tasks are added to the plate like being discharge planners too since they cut that role out. And no aides either. Just a little vent on my end I apologize but you will learn to adapt. Just take it one day at a time and be realistic to what you can and cannot do!
  6. by   MN-Nurse
    Quote from cherubhipster
    oh! That 3 years is including nursing school. I guess I shouldn't count that?

    Orientation- two days shadowing another charge. That's it.
    So ask for additional orientation (be specific) and inquire as to what your resources are if you have questions when you are working charge.

    Be positive and proactive. Simply telling your superiors, "I can't!" or "I don't want to" do it isn't going to help much.

    Good luck.
  7. by   loriangel14
    On my floor new grads get charge training after a couple of months.Usually it consists of working a couple of days along side the official charge and then they are on their own.
  8. by   KalipsoRed21
    Frankly trial by fire has been my entire 4 years of nursing experience. Basically this is why I think the idea that nursing is a 'profession' is kind of stupid. Any nurse less than 5, maybe 7, years old went to school for 2-4 years and did a bunch of book work....none of us knew what the hell we are doing when we got our first jobs. It's such a JOKE! I think it takes at least 2 years for a brand new nurse to know what the heck is going on. At least 6 months (after 2 years of being a nurse on any floor) on whatever floor you are working on to even think about being a 'fill in' charge. A nurse with 5 years experience and at least 6 months to 1 year on a particular floor before he/she should be allowed to precept a new grad. I also think that anyone who wants to be a manager should have 5 to 10 years of floor experience before qualifiying to be a manager.

    Our 'profession' is more like a cluster **** if you ask me. It's like a bunch of people in a line trying to throw a handful of loose marbles at the next person. The next person is suppose to catch all of them before they hit the floor, but it's impossible for them to do so. They catch as many as they can and then throw them to the next person who does the same thing. Before long you just have line of people standing around empty handed.

    We use to be 'journeyman' level at our craft before we were allowed to practice on our own. Now we are apprentices teaching apprentices.
  9. by   backtowork
    Well, everyone who has been around for a while knows that.."see one, do one, teach one" is the oldest truism in nursing. It has been this way throughout my 34 year career. The best I can tell you is to give charge a shot WITH the caveat to your manager that she/he will be either on the unit or available by phone at any time you need support AND be willing to jump in or come in if things get hinky. It is scary..I know..but it will get better as your confidence grows. Best luck..and hang tough on the support thing. nurse::heartbeat
  10. by   txredheadnurse
    So what would take for you to feel you would be ready? Make a list of things or experiences you feel you need in order to be successful at being charge and review those list items with your manager. Then make sure you learn the policies or procedures or get exposure to triaging requests, etc. to help prep yourself for being charge. In other words be pro active in making the transisition easier for yourself. You do need to understand that being charge at least part of the time comes with the territory of bedside nursing so you need to get over the mental hurdle of "not being ready" and work towards the most successful experience you can. Bottom line none of us ever feel we are totally ready to move outside our comfort zone but we won't grow professionally until we do.
  11. by   NoviceRN10
    5 months seems like plenty of time to figure out the unit and how to be charge. I was charge within 4 months of beginning my job. What does being in charge on your unit entail that makes you so nervous about it?
  12. by   nurseprnRN
    " that 3 years is including nursing school. i guess i shouldn't count that?"

    i wouldn't, since it's experience as a nurse that people will use to evaluate your questions and experience. student time doesn't count, as you had little knowledge and less responsibility then.
  13. by   llg
    If you always wait until you "feel comfortable" to do something ... you won't progress at an appropriate rate ... and there will be some things you never do. Few people "feel comfortable" when taking on new, more advanced responsibilities. If being in charge is part of your job, fulfill your responsibilities willingly. That's what they are paying you for.

    If everybody only did what they felt comfortable doing -- a lot of important work would never get done.

    If managers could only assign work to people who said they wanted it and felt comfortable doing it -- a lot of important work would not get done.

    The people who get ahead in life are the people who step up to the plate and try their best -- even when they don't feel perfectly comfortable.

    I agree with others who have posted here. Make a specific list of your questions that you need answered -- and get answers to them before you take your turn at being in charge. Finally, once you get to be a Charge Nurse (and be good at it), you may find your worklife improving. People tend to respect good Charge Nurses -- and often show them a little more courtesy than they do the nurses who don't or won't take charge. See the positive side as well as the negative.
  14. by   beckster_01
    I oriented to charge with a little over 1 year of experience. The only reason it took that long was because we had a massive management turn over and the group I got hired with got 'forgotten,' and none of us were in a hurry to chase it down. We get a half-day of "charge class," which is just a nurse leader explaining what resources we have, and 2 days following another charge nurse. FYI: Most nurses that we hire who have prior experience (hospital or not) learn the charge role after 6 months. New grads are usually about a year.

    So a couple weeks ago I was charge alone for the first time (on the day shift), and it was awful. We had two patients transferred to the ICU and one patient refusing to be discharged, which resulted in a patient sitting in the hallway with no bed (which was a complicated situation in itself). To top that off, at 1500 my manager took over charge so that I could take patients for 4 hours because we were short staffed, and no one was in a position to pick a patient up.

    Despite my manager being with me throughout the day, I felt completely out of my element. After the day was over I pulled a more seasoned nurse aside and asked her what I should have done differently. I would have talked to my manager, but he was telling me I was doing the right things all day. I got some great feedback, learned a few things, and I asked my manager to put me as charge a little more frequently so that I don't have to relearn the role every time I am charge. Baptism by fire is right. The only thing to do is to do it.