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How long before being charge nurse?

Posted

Hi all. I'm wondering how long nurses usually work before they're considered ready to be charge nurse. The reason I ask is because I have been a nurse for approximately 4 months and I was put in charge just the other night. If any of you read my other posts you see that I'm still learning and definitely shouldn't be trusted to be responsible for all that a charge nurse has to do. So, day shift did not actually tell me I was in charge. After all of them had scattered one of my coworkers just mentioned it. I imediately said I don't think so. I actually refused. And I'm very glad I did. Everyone had faith I could do it, but they're wrong and I feel like they're so short staffed that they actually are putting patients lives at risk. It's not only a safety issue, but it's not fair to me. I ended up not even sitting down until 4:30 am and then only for 30 minutes. There is no way I could have handled being charge. Plus, j haven't been trained to be. My boss agreed when I talked to her about it, but I feel like if I had agreed to do it and nobody died then she would have just let me do it.

What do you guys think?

I'm already looking into other places to work. They just have such a low standard of care and so short staffed. Oh and not to mention there was a nurse working that had been there for 30 years and they didn't make Her charge. Instead some nurse a little more experienced than me was. I don't get it.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

I think you did the right thing.

Lennonninja, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery. Has 9 years experience.

You did the right thing. I was forced to charge on med/surg when I'd only been off orientation for a few months, and I hated it. I hadn't been trained, and I was the new grad who cried during work every night for the first 3 months or so. Luckily I only had to officially charge twice. Now I'm in a MICU and they won't even think about training you for charge unless you've been off orientation for at least two years. I don't charge in the MICU yet, and I'm planning on keeping it that was a long as possible!

VANurse2010

Has 6 years experience.

Personal opinion - I think a year off orientation is sufficient.

To the OP - what they did was not cool and you were right to refuse, but don't feel like you're directly responsible for the entire floor as charge. The bedside nurse has ultimate responsibility. Think of it this way - "The charge nurse told me to" has even less of a leg to stand on than "the doctor told me to." It just doesn't fly.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

Personal opinion - I think a year off orientation is sufficient.

To the OP - what they did was not cool and you were right to refuse, but don't feel like you're directly responsible for the entire floor as charge. The bedside nurse has ultimate responsibility. Think of it this way - "The charge nurse told me to" has even less of a leg to stand on than "the doctor told me to." It just doesn't fly.

I agree.

I just keep thinking what if there was a code or some other type of emergency and she was charge and not ready for it.

I'm glad she had the gumption to say no. As a new nurse I probably would have done it and been frantic the whole night.

nynursey_

Specializes in Med/Surg/ICU/Stepdown. Has 3 years experience.

I've been a nurse for just a little over a year and a half. I've been a nurse with this particular organization for just shy of a year. Tonight is my first shift as charge.

I was forewarned during my year eval that this was coming. It was one of my "professional goals" laid out by my boss, so I can say I was forewarned. However, looking at our census, I can see why tonight had to be the night. Out of all the nurses on for that shift, not only have I been a nurse the longest, but I've also been with that hospital the longest. So it looks like I have to volunteer as tribute, as it were.

4 months is sketchy. Even at a year, I'm not entirely sure what my place as charge is. I definitely didn't have any formal training for it, so my plan is to wing it and rely on supervision for major issues.

All in all, you did the right thing, but understand that their assigning charge to you can be viewed two ways. They have done what they have to do for the needs of the unit and they also believe you're capable at this time. Length of time is all relative if you have the skill set to do it. Next time, believe in you as they do, and utilize your resources. You've got this. Good luck!

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

nynursey_ Good luck tonight.

sistrmoon

Specializes in Oncology. Has 13 years experience.

They seem to wait about 6 months on my floor. I think a year would be preferable. No training for us and no differential. You just kind of learn what your responsibilities are on the job.

Farawyn...thanks for agreeing! That was my exact thought when they said I was in charge. What if someone codes, which by the way is pretty much a few times per week on my unit. We are supposed to be general med-surg but the hospital has been so short lately that we're getting ICU patients and ones that should be on a telemetry floor. The night they wanted me to be charge I had serious issues with 3 out of 6 of my patients. One with critically low bp, one with critically high blood sugar, and one who was supposed to be given blood in dialysis because of critically low

H/H (they never do it and then send them back to us). So I was frantic until about 4 am, running around, calling doctors, rechecking vitals and sugars frequently and trying to make sure none of my patients code. That's actually how most nights there go for me. It's like these patients are being mismanaged. The doctors don't make orders clear and so therefore patients end up in critical condition and also some floors don't do their job and so we end up doing everything. Like my pt with the Hgb of 6.4. She even went to surgery after dialysis and still no blood was given. Then they send her back and I've got to get new orders to give blood, which means I have to get a hold of a doctor in the middle of the night. For that particular doctor it can be impossible. Anyways, I really don't think that low staffing and me being the one with most experience justifies me being in charge, because I've still not had enough training or experience to do it. Someone would have died if I had to worry about charge responsibilities. This is why I plan on leaving asap. Until then I'll stand my ground

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

My department policy is two years, but we also have a permanent charge position for all 3 shifts. There are several other nurses who are trained to do charge for when those permanent staff are off and for weekends. All received training.

Expecting someone with only months of experience to do charge with no training is just plain wrong.

Thank you!

EmergencyRN22

Specializes in Emergency Room.

The most experienced RN available (who makes wise decisions) should be charge.

VANurse2010

Has 6 years experience.

The most experienced RN available (who makes wise decisions) should be charge.

I don't really agree with this. Less experienced nurses need to be given the opportunity for professional development.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

The most experienced RN available (who makes wise decisions) should be charge.

And when the most experienced nurse has less than a year under their belt, what makes that safe? They are still learning how to be a nurse.

Mr. Murse

Specializes in critical care. Has 7 years experience.

I think it's all relative. As a rule, I think under a year is a little soon unless it just has to be that way, but I also think there are exceptions. I was charging about 8 months into being a nurse, but I took to it quickly. It wasn't that I knew the most or had answers to all the questions, it was that I knew how to find the answers and keep a level head about it. I was recognized as someone that handles stress better than most and am resourceful enough to find solutions to problems I may not immediately know the solution to.

So in cases like mine, although it was nerve wracking at first, I feel I was ready. In other cases, people that have been there for years just don't want the extra responsibility for whatever reason. So there's really not a set time I think when people are "ready", but a year seems to be a good general rule of thumb.

Either way, I think you did the right thing. If you didn't feel comfortable and confident with it then you shouldn't do it. 4 months really is too short for anyone, in my opinion anyway. It takes longer than that for most people to even learn how to efficiently care a full patient load without being overwhelmed.

NurseSpeedy, ADN, LPN, RN

Has 18 years experience.

The hospital that I worked at wanted about six months. It was more about the nurse that the amount of time licensed though, and whether or not you are working charge nurse at the desk of a large, busy unit or doing so in a small unit where you may have a patient assignment as well. Usually the hospital that I worked out started nurses out in the smaller units for their initial charge nurse shifts before handing them a floor with 60 patients on it. What I mean by it depending on the nurse is that if they chose you to fill this role (even though you didn't feel comfortable and had the right to refuse) then they are pretty confident in your nursing skills and ability to take leadership. If anything try to take it as a compliment. There are nurses that have decades of experience that the facility would never trust to work as charge nurse. There are also some nurses that absolutely refuse to take on that role (whether or not they stay employed is between them and the facility). If you don't feel comfortable then say so like you did. They should of definitely took the time to train you first though so that you at least would know exactly what is expected of you.

Well I was gonna have 6 patients to take care of too and there's just no way I would have been able to answer all of the calls or give the right answers. I don't think it's right that a very experienced nurse was working and they didn't ask her to do it. Instead they tell me I'm gonna do it. I don't think so. I'm glad I said no and I made sure my boss wouldn't be asking me to do it for a long time.

Caffeine_IV

Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

I think it should be decided on an individual basis. I definitely don't agree with throwing someone into being charge with no warning and no training.

They don't compensate enough for charge nurse role at any facility I've worked. I prefer NOT to do it experienced or not.