Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life as the Charge Nurse

Sunday I had the honor of being the charge nurse for my Intensive Care Unit. This is a job that is usually very undesired. This is because of the added duties that one has to perform above their routine role as an RN. You still have the same patient assignment as you would any other day as a staff nurse but you have the multiple added duties that come along with the title of "Charge Nurse". Most of these duties are dealing with problems. Be it trying to get staff to work together as a team, getting staff extra help, disciplinary issues, and dealing with family and staff complaints. I found it to be quite eye opening to see that from my last shift I was a "staff RN" but now with the name of "Charge" people flocked to me, mostly to complain. I thought to myself, I am no different than I was the last shift and I haven't gained any magical power to solve these problems, but now I am the one dealing with every one's issues. To see the role of charge nurse, through the charge nurses eyes was quite eye opening. I never go to the head nurse with daily issues, rather deal with them myself and approach her only to get advice on large issues. But most people I see come with you about everything. I must admit it was an interesting day with the staff nurse fighting with the nurse practitioner, the young 30-something patient who was dying, the overwhelmed nurse unable to get work completed, the teenager suicide patient, the sitter who feel asleep at the bedside, the nurse who doesn't like to transfer her patients because she doesn't want an admission. And this was a Sunday, usually weekends are quieter. As my unit clerk said to me at the end of the day -"What a day to be in charge! It was a crazy day!". I think that sums it up. In the end, I was told of only one complaint that would be voiced to my manager and I was told that in that complaint I would be praised for my attempt to re mediate the problem. This day left me wondering if it is really worth the extra pennies you get on your pay check to wear the name "Charge Nurse" on your lapel. The only good thing is that I do know I can deal with this role, and won't be so nervous when it happens again.

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