Inexperienced nurses in the Big Chair

Nurses General Nursing


I visited my old job yesterday, and I was shocked to find how many new grads are working as charge nurse, supervisor etc over a busy cardiac floor!! I always thought that experienced nurses would be in charge over a floor like that. I was thinking of picking up occasional days at this hospital, but now that I see the trend of putting new nurses in charge, I'm reconsidering this. Why would a hospital do this?

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management.
I was off of orientation for only a few days when I was in charge the first weekend on a brand new unit with all new grads, including myself. The only experienced nurse on the floor was a per diem and she was floated elsewhere. I walked onto a 40 patient unit with only four new nurses, equaling 10 patients per nurse. Two patients were expected to expire very soon. I called the supervisor to question how safe this could possibly be and was told that since I "appeared" experienced, she had no idea that I was a brand-new nurse. There was so much smoke being blown you-know-where that I couldn't believe it! I asked why the only experienced nurse on the floor was floated to another unit and was told that PDs float first. Well, amongst my many tears and frustrations, both patients did expire very soon. As post-mortem care was being delivered to one of them, I had to intercept the family from walking into the room. They clearly had not yet been notified! I will never forget nor forgive the administration for allowing this to occur. It was unfair to both patients and nurses. But, most often, the patients and families are not aware of the many stressors happening to the nurse and the nurse appears uninterested, uncaring and unavailable. It is a true injustice to all RNs, especially those that truly do care about their patients and their families.[/quote

I cannot agree with you more. That was a very poor decision on the part of management to NOT consider that you were a new grad and could not possibly know the ropes of the charge nurse role. It takes experience and time in order to deliver the care that you want to administer in a situation such as you described. I feel badly for you that you had to be thrown into this highly emotional and stressful scenario. I commend you for handling it well.

We all want to be caring and compassionate nurses. If we did not want to have this mindset, we would not have gone to school and made the sacrifices that we have made. It is absolutely a travesty that we are held to the restraints that management places on us that inhibit us from delivering the type of care that we as nurses wish to administer. I can't help but blame the "bottom line" mentality of the healthcare industry. It is heartbreaking.

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