Charge nurse with less than a year RN experience???!!

  1. Recently one of the nurses I work with began training to be charge on our 30-bed (very busy!) med/surg unit. But here's the kicker - while she's very pleasant to work hasn't even been a year yet since she graduated from nursing school (not previously an LPN or related field; never worked in medicine before), and has only been off new grad nurse orientation for 6 months. She is the newest and least experienced of the nurses that work her shift. She only oriented once and is already charging on her own.

    This just seems ridiculous to me. A nurse who hasn't even been a nurse for a year is not someone I'm going to for help.....she has had litte experience with IVs, foleys, NGs, she has NEVER seen/experienced a code. The charge nurse needs to be someone with experience and good critical thinking skills - something that often a new nurse has not yet mastered. I'm just appalled. Scared. And a little angry that management would think this is a good idea, especially when this particular unit already has an abundant amount of new nurses working it. It's like having the blind leading the blind.

    Just needing to vent, or maybe get some replies on why this isn't such a bad idea!
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 18, '09
  2. 102 Comments

  3. by   waitingforthedream
    Would'nt touch this one with a 10 ft pole. Why???? Me being a new grad would never ever even consider excepting this position. That puts you and other nurses along with the patients at risk. Is there nobody else on this floor with more experience?
  4. by   chenoaspirit
    Maybe she is the only one who was willing to take the position? I know on our floor, I was thrown into charge (had been a nurse about a year) the first time when the original charge nurse called in. Plus I had a team of patients to care for. I was so scared, I had NEVER been trained OR oriented to do charge! Of course something had to happen on that shift to test my knowledge/skills. I made it thru the night, but I was MAD. It was me and 2 other NEW nurses on the floor and THATS IT. I still to this day do not understand why/how a floor can put employees/patients in such circumstances. It isnt safe, in my opinion. And to top it off....I didnt get charge pay! That was the icing on the cake.
    Maybe you need to discuss your concerns with your manager. Do others feel the same way? But then again, if you do say something, it may appear like you are just jealous and it may cause a tiff. But if you feel unsafe and your license is on the line, then I would definitely say something. Will you have additional support from other staff, such as a nursing coordinator, DON, etc that you can go to if needed while working under this charge nurse?
    I just cant believe what hospitals do these days. It's scarey.
  5. by   waitingforthedream
    I would run for the nearest exit. Unsafe practice and I would not put my credentials on the line.
  6. by   LaneyB
    When I worked pediatric onc/BMT I was trained for charge nurse about 8 mths after I started. I had been told when I hired in that I would do BMT training after a year, charge nurse training after 1 1/2 years, and chemotherapy certification after 2 years. I ended up doing the BMT training after only about 6 mths. Did this nurse get a choice? I know we didn't on my floor.
  7. by   SpringerCab
    Our policy at the hospital I work for is that any RN can be trained to charge after 6 months of employment. They normally get about a month of orientation to charge, but not always.
    I have worked with some new RN's, that even without some kind of medical experience, have been wonderful charge nurses. On the other hand I have worked with some RN's that have years of experience and I don't trust them at all. I agree it would be better that they have more experience but just because they have experience doesn't make them a good nurse or a good charge nurse.
  8. by   interleukin
    You can always say "no."

    But, for one reason of another, whether safety is an issue or not, that word does not seem to be in most nurse's vocabulary.
  9. by   MAISY, RN-ER
    I am not sure if nurses that take that spot are aware of the implications. Additionally, I agree that anyone without at least one year's experience should never be charge!

    This is a new practice that is occurring in my department, out with the old and in with the new. The older more experienced charge nurses have been pointing out the dangers of our new "best" practices of dumping untriaged patients in rooms. The new ones don't know any better. We actually had nurses told they were too old and resisted change. Needless to say the union is involved, but these young uns have the chops but not the teeth to back up their decisions. What's the saying? "Youth goes where angels fear to fly," who will protect them and their license, meanwhile who's protecting us from them? Better yet, who's protecting the patient?

    While this is not a new practice, IT SHOULD NEVER OCCUR IN A BUSY ER, NEVER, EVER! But it is, so does it surprise me it's happening on floors, NOPE!
  10. by   Jean1313
    I had the same problem. I had been a nurse for seven months, and they decided to "train" me to charge. And by train I mean they literally said "Here's the transfer papers, do this transfer." I fought it, and they said after 6 months I could be trained to charge (they said a year in the interview).

    In the end, I got to put it off for another couple months. But the possible reasoning? I was the staff RN with the 3rd most seniority at the time!

    No wonder they didn't want to listen to how unsafe I thought it was...
  11. by   NeoNurseTX
    I know of Magnet hospitals around here that throw people with less than a year experience into the charge position w/o training. and they do it!
  12. by   KeechieSan
    Haha sounds so familiar. At least she got some sort of orientation. I came into work one night a year and a half after I started and saw my name in the charge spot on the board, I assumed it was a mistake. Yeah right, two seconds after I walked in the door the day charge stuck the phone in my hand and said "bye". I was in charge before I knew what was going on. There were no other nurses on the floor that were more senior than me, except one traveller. I had NO idea what to do, I never realized that the charge nurse does so much stuff that I didn't see. I spent the whole night waiting for the other shoe to drop, thankfully it didn't. I've been charge a few times since then but nothing compares to that first night. Ugh.
  13. by   Medic09
    I think this is governed by necessity.

    Few would argue that we want more experienced nurses to be Charge. But where are they? So you go with what you've got. Help her do a good job. Give her support, since ultimately you're all concerned about good patient care.

    FWIW, much of the Charge's job is flow management. You don't need a lot of clinical experience to manage well. Preferred, sure; but not an absolute. Some folks have a real talent for organizing (not me!), and can apply to almost anything once they learn the ropes. Some really older nurses will remember when 'charge' was a task, not a seperate position. The task was rotated among nurses one shift to the next, and many new nurses found themselves playing charge shortly after school.

    When there are clinical task problems, you can still ask the most experienced colleague; Charge or not. And if there is no one available with more experience, well that just proves my point.

    In the military, the best NCOs are the old pros. But there aren't enough of them. So many of us youngsters found ourselves in small command. We were too young and stupid to realize we shouldn't/couldn't do the job; so we just went out there and got it done (most of the time). The analogy is simple...
  14. by   classicdame
    I know of hospitals with units employing many LVN's who will hire new grad RN's to charge.

    Our policy is you have to be here one year minimum. I will also say my friend took a temporary charge nurse position after 18 mos as nurse. She ended up keeping it for a while, then took interim manager and is now a nursing director. She only worked 18 mos on the floor but EXCELS in management and most all her staff love working for her. So maybe leadership skills is a good thing.