New grad, charge nurse. Doable?


Good evening all,I recently posted a topic regarding whether new grads should start in med/surg, and it seems the consensus is, though it would be beneficial, times have changed, and it isn't necessary. So, I maybe be getting a position in a complex continuing care centre to begin my new grad career as an RN. The only frightening thing, I'll be a charge nurse if I accept this job! I've been told that I'll get as much orientation as needed, and the unit isn't as "crazy" as med/surg, and that I should do fine (I did well in my med/surg clinical rotations). What do you think? Can a new grad handle this? Apparently the staff are very helpful. I'd like to brush up on my assertiveness as I used to be fairly shy but have come a little way with this issue. Shall I go for it, or keep looking?

Dixielee, BSN, RN

1,222 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 38 years experience.

For what it is worth, I don't think a new grad should be in charge of anything, and I don't mean that disrespectfully. New grads really don't know what they don't know for a number of years! I was there once and I am just thankful no one had a bad outcome due to my inexperience! Just because someone tells you that you can do it, doesn't mean you can. Sometimes they are desperate for someone to assume responsibility!

I know there are others who will disagree, but I really mean NO disrespect to new grads, but nursing has a very steep learning curve and it takes a good while to feel confident in your basic skills without throwing in management responsibility as well. While I know it is hard finding jobs right now, if it is at all possible, get into a new grad internship or lengthy orientation. You will not regret it, but don't get in over your head right off the bat and regret your decision later. Take it slow, learn what you can and then branch out.

Good luck!

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

1 Article; 3,377 Posts

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 12 years experience.

I've been in my current position for 10 months (started as a new graduate) and I still would not feel comfortable being in charge. The charge nurse acts as a resource for the other nurses. They mitigate conflicts among patients and family, they make the assignments and handle conflicts with staff and their assignments, they coordinate staffing for the next shift and manage any complaints, questions or management issues that come up over the course of the shift.

No way did I have enough skills, experience and confidence to fill a charge nurse position as a new graduate. I've been working for nearly a year, and I still don't think I should be doing it. Just my :twocents:

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

1,398 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.
Shall I go for it, or keep looking?

I would ask why no one from the current staff would be a better choice for charge than a new grad.

The answer really would not matter; if you need a job you take the job and do the best you can.


1,131 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

To me, it just make any sense how you can be in charge of something you have no experience at. It's kind of not logical.Can you start as a staff nurse before taking charge responsibilities? I would honestly opt for that.


6 Posts

I would rather opt for that as well. I'm an RN, so apparently that means I would have charge duties. In Canada, we don't have LPNs, but RPNs would be the equivalent I believe. It's the RPNs who have assignments, just like how it is at most LTC facilities...


121 Posts

I had a friend who was a new grad, and she did very well in nursing school and had the in-charge attitude. In nursing school, she was always a leader and quite good.

However, when she was given her first nursing job as a charge nurse, she was fired in 1 week. Being charge nurse is a lot of responsibility and without much experiences you are really setting yourself up for failure.

If you think about it, why haven't any of the nurses that already work there not taking the charge nurse position.


6 Posts

All the RNs function as charge nurses that work there. I wouldn't be able to be a "regular" staff nurse with assignments because that is given to the RPNs. I understand everyone's point. Ive been considering it because it's not as busy as a hospital unit. It's something like LTC and rehab. But nonetheless, I have these hesitations for a reason...

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

1,398 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.
It's something like LTC and rehab. But nonetheless, I have these hesitations for a reason...

Ah, that explains it.

That is just how some of these facilities roll. If you have a better opportunity, take it. If not: Congratulations, Charge Nurse!


304 Posts

Has 2 years experience.

I've been a nurse about two years and I hate being in charge. Everyone (docs too) expect you to have all your ducks in a row and don't have a lot of patience if you don't know whatever it is they think you should know. I was on tele, though, so maybe it's different... If it's an LTC-type facility, that would make me even more nervous, I think -- you might be the only RN there at any given time and it's going to be up to you to decide if a resident needs to be sent to the hospital, etc. Very difficult if don't have experience. If at all possible, I would pass. But I understandthat might not be possible, whatever the reason. Best of luck in your decision.


6 Posts

Thanks. Apparently there's always more than one RN there if I have any questions. So, I guess I'll just have to keep applying, otherwise may have to take this for now and work my butt off educating myself.


519 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry, OB, NICU. Has 4 years experience.

Don't go by the length orientation here. No amount of orientation and training will replace experience needed for a charge position. I would also say, do it if you desperately need a job until you find a better position elsewhere. However, I also think a new grad is not well equipped yet to be a charge nurse.