View Full Version : Keeping the boat afloat

Mother Jones, RN
06-25-2007, 10:25 AM
Hello fellow charge nurses. We are the captain of the ship, the ruler of the roost, the nurses who keep things rolling when the unit is falling apart. We are also the ones who take the brunt when our managers are not amused. I work every weekend as the charge nurse of a psych unit. There are days when I don't know how I'm going to get through the shift without loosing my mind. There are other days when things go so smoothly, it's hard not to fall asleep at the desk. It's feast or famine. Let's get to know each other. Tell me about yourself. What do you like about your job, and what stresses can you do without?


06-25-2007, 05:28 PM
wondering what being a charge nurse is like for everyone?.. do you also take a patient assignment?

06-25-2007, 06:09 PM
I don't take a patient assignment in CCU when I'm in charge unless everyone else already has one. That's a pretty rare occurrence. Being charge is busy enough with putting out fires, dealing with staffing/skill mix, filling out various forms, looking at everyone's orders/lab results, providing breaks, etc. The list goes on. Some days, like MJ said, are really slow, but some are very hectic!
Unfortunately, the really hectic days are the ones where you're most likely to have to take a patient.

Mother Jones, RN
06-25-2007, 10:54 PM
I must take an assignment. I'm counted in the staffing matrix. I usually take the hardest patients because I'm the most experienced nurse on the unit.

06-26-2007, 02:48 AM
I'm going to start training as a charge nurse in our busy ED soon. So far I've only relieved the charge nurse for an hour at a time (my thinking is, how bad could I mess it up in an hour?!?). I had lots of management experience before I came to nursing, and I have a very good "big-picture" mind, so much so that management feels I'm ready to be in charge in the ED. YIKES!!!

In our ED, the charge nurse does not take patients. Instead, s/he is responsible for assigning beds to incoming patients (alongside the ambulance triage nurse--and sometimes acts as ambulance triage when we're short), giving out beds for admitted patients as they become available from admitting, supervising the techs and assigning breaks for all the staff, and calling in "B" charts--walk-in patients who wait in the waiting room to be seen--as beds become available.

It's a big job and I'm very nervous about it. Charge nursing is like housework: people only notice when you aren't doing a very good job! A good charge nurse can make the day go by much easier--a bad one...ugh! Can totally triple everyone's load.

I'd love any advice from you seasoned charge nurses out there!

06-26-2007, 03:05 AM
Always look cool, no matter how hectic everyone around you is feeling, smile and let the staff ventilate when they need to. Sometimes all they want is someone to listen to their frustrations. It worked for me (I was noc shift charge for about three months in a very busy unit).

Mother Jones, RN
06-26-2007, 08:52 PM
Smiling helps me get through my shift. No, I'm not elated to be at work, but you can't scream when you're smiling because your teeth are clenched. :D