what would you do (re: being in charge)?


i'm sure this has happened to other people, but i want to know how you would handle this situation... what would you do (as a relatively new nurse) if you walked into work to discover you were in charge of the floor (along with having a full assignement), and you've never been in charge or never even been oriented to charge? what if they tell you you're the only one who can possibly do it? how would you handle this situation?

Specializes in Med-Surg/Tele, ER. Has 2 years experience.

This, unfortunately, is not uncommon at all.

Most of the CNs on our unit were "oriented" this way. They just walk in and TADA! you're charge. I warned multiple CNs and the unit manager that I didn't want that to happen, and made plans to proactively train myself on charge to avoid this scenario. Once I knew they were thinking about putting me on charge, I started talking a lot about how and when I would be trained.

Many nurses new to charge try to avoid it by refusing, resisting the responsibility, etc. I can completely understand the sentiment, but IME - that's not going to work, and will only give management something to ding you on in your evaluation. On my unit, if you try to get out of it by just avoiding it, it will only be dropped on your pretty little head in a highly "sink or swim" manner. Modern nursing being what it is, I find it's better to be proactive, get more experienced nurses to train you on things, and move on with your life.


59 Posts

Specializes in PCU (Cardiac).

Oh yeah, what a familiar scenario:rolleyes:!! The floor that I work in, is divided by six pods, each holding 15 pts. We are staffed with four nurses on each pod; three nurses get four pts and the team leader gets three pts. The team leader is a resource for the rest of the team that day:assisting with admissions, discharges, procedures, making assigments, covering while other nurses off floor, etc. We usually have travel nurses or float nurses come to our floor and if you are the only core staff that day, guess what, you are team leader :).

It is scary and sometimes intimidating because they assign you and the other nurses have many more years experience than you. I have learned a lot by being team leader; you might get asked things you don't know but find out, ask questions and now you will know for next time.

Take it as a compliment, if management didn't think you could handle it, they wouldn't assign you to that duty. Best of luck.


658 Posts

Specializes in CMSRN. Has 9 years experience.

This happened to me starting 2 months after orientation and they did not tell me I was charge and I had no idea what the position entailed.

Everyone was supportive that was around (I work overnight) and I let the nurs supervisor know too. Luckily we have a 2 nurses station that expand the full floor and the other charge nurse was there to help.

After it happeneing one too many times I requested to come in for the day and orient to charge with the manager. It worked out well. I still do not know enough but I have what I think I need for now.

I do not hold back my lack of experience from pertinent people on duty. No one gives me flack and seem supportive of what I have accomplished. I do not want anyone to think I know what I should know for charge and besides I am always asking for clarification and feedback for that very reason.

Our floor teams up and help each other so I do not feel cornered.

What prompted me orient with the manager was because I would ask numerous day shift staff to review orders or just let me know what I did/did not do wrong. So when I come back that evening I would know. Unfortunately I never got feedback and found out that I had missed a few basic things. (These nurses were preceptors and charge nurses for the day shift) My manager was not happy. I named no names but felt she should know that at least I was trying.

I have a good manager.

This topic is now closed to further replies.