Charge nurse woes

  1. I have recently been oriented to the charge nurse role in an ICU. I am afraid I am not cut out for the job. I lack assertiveness when confronting the more seasoned nurses and ask for too many opinions when I am making decisions. Is the charge nurse role a learned skill or do you need to have some inherent qualities. They felt I could handle the role but I lack the self-confidence in my decisions. I have also seen that no matter what decisions you make you will never please anyone. I want to be proficient at my job and want to accept this new challenge I just have doubts that I can learn this new role. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Visit wendyssmile profile page

    About wendyssmile

    Joined: Jan '02; Posts: 16
    Registered Nursein CTICU


  3. by   ACNORN
    Hi Wendy,
    Welcome to nursing management! I an a nursing director and have several shift supervisors who have gone through some of the same things when they started in their roles. I promoted them because I knew they had the nursing knowledge and people skills to handle the job. It sounds like someone believes in you too. My advice is this:
    1. ask yourself what decision you think is right regardless of anyone's opinion. You may want to consider alternatives and ramifications of your decision. What is the best and worst thing that could happen? Who will be affected? Is your decision in the best interests of your patients?

    2. If you feel you need to double check your decision with someone else, ask your supervisor, another charge nurse, or a colleague whom you trust. Don't be afraid to make some decisions on your own.

    3. Accept that part of being a leader (which you are) means that you have to make the right decision versus the popular decision. Those of us who are seasoned managers have learned to have tough skins and know that there are going to be days when the staff are not happy with your decisions. If they see that you are willing to make the right decisions, they will eventually respect you and follow your lead.

    4. Lastly, give yourself time to grow and learn and accept that you are going to make some mistakes in your new role. I have made many mistakes over the years. You learn from your mistakes and go on. And, to answer your question, I believe that most leadership qualities are learned. It helps if you have some innate assertiveness to your personality, but it has taken me many years to be comfortable with confrontations and decision making and a whole bunch of other traits as well.

    I hope this encourages you. My last suggestion is to find someone who is a seasoned nursing leader who is willing to mentor you. I had the great benefit of several nursing managers and directors who saw potential in me and taught me how to be successful in nursing administration. I owe them a lot and will never be able to repay them, but I try to follow their lead and act as a mentor to others just as they did for me.

    Good luck.
  4. by   CEN35
    i responded to a post similar to this once before, although i can't remember te thread or topic?

    i did charge for a year, and was told did a great job. yes, even i at times lacked self-confidence in this area. this was most obvious with the "seasoned staff."
    after a major blowout, i quit doing charge. i told them i would never do it again. after a few months, i felt like i wanted to do it again. i felt like why ask though, i already made my statement.
    i started to do it again, and it went well. the majoraty of the staff backed my decisions up. the rest came from the physicians, who wanted me doing it all the time.
    there will always be a few individuals that give you grief, and will not be happy. however, you will learn you cannot please everybody.
    you just need to be sure, once you make a decision....that you are sure it is the proper one. don't change your mind for someone else, unless you yourself really think you made a wrong decision.
    to win respect you have to realize when you are wrong, and make sure others know you are aware of your error. nobody is perfect! :d
    last a good leader many times, lets their support help make decisions. a good leader at times will let the individuals solve their issues.
    a good charge person knows, when to step in, and when not too. it is not something totally inherent. i beleive much is inherent, but equally as much is learned.

    give yourself some time, these things don't happen overight.


  5. by   wendyssmile
    Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement. It is very helpful.
  6. by   micro
    someday i might too be charge......
    but surely not for the WHOLE $1.00 MORE an hour......
    just to do it........
    but if i don't.....that is cool.........
  7. by   mattsmom81
    You got some good input, Wendy, but don't be afraid to say no to something that isn't good for you. Nursing is very stressful today on it's own; charge is one more stressor.

    If it doesn't set well with you after awhile, and it's getting to you, don't be manipulated into being a martyr. Nurses have to take care of themselves.

    Best wishes whatever you decide!
  8. by   susanmary
    It's difficult being charge nurse -- especially when you have a full patient load. With the acuity of patients, it's challenging enough to complete your own assignment -- add the "charge" role and you are constantly trouble-shooting for others, filling pre-scheduled holes as well as sick calls, assigning admissions, making out assignments for next shift, etc....the list goes on and on. You are constantly putting out "fires." I do not get paid extra for this, and it's not optional. Frequently I'm the senior nurse on the floor & am assigned the role. If several "seasoned" nurses are on, we tend to rotate so as not to totally burn out.

    Self-confidence comes from within YOU. Please realize you will NEVER please everyone -- do your best. Talk to your manager about "the whole picture" and ask for his/her input regarding your growth as charge nurse.

    I try to be very fair when making out assignments (regarding acuity, patient/family demands, etc.) - but from early on I've made it clear that if the assignments don't look ok -- the next shift nurses certainly can change a patient or two ONLY IF THEY NOTIFY THE NURSE'S AID of the change (I'm NOT going there.) But things change during shifts -- patients crump, etc. You need to be flexible. You need to start trusting yourself -- it will take time. Find a nurse or two you can trust and ask them for pointers on being charge. Keep your ears open -- listen to suggestions -- don't take things personal (I know it's hard.) You can do it.

    If I were never in charge again, I would be such a happy camper. I'm pretty much a happy camper anyway. Oh well. Best of luck.
  9. by   micro