Taking charge as a charge nurse

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Being a charge nurse is often as stressful as being a director. You are "charged" with the authority to make certain decisions (make assignments, provide guidance to those who are less experienced, request additional staff members when the patient census goes up, etc.) That's the positive side. On the negative side, you must deal with irritated patients, families, doctors, or even staff members. So if you are considering diving into the charge nurse role, make sure you understand exactly what is involved.

All charge nurses should possess the following traits:

Flexibility: The only thing predictable in healthcare is that it is unpredictable. A charge nurse must be prepared to chart a different course if the winds of change demand.

Empathy: This attribute is for patients, their loved ones, and the staff. Everyone needs to know that someone understands his or her issues and has concern for him or her.

The ability to motivate others: As a charge nurse, asking others for their opinion or input in a matter demonstrates that you value them as part of the team, and thus motivates the team to perform well.

Sense of humor: This trait can get you through the hardest of times. Research shows that laughter and humor can be a factor in healing and bridging wide rivers of diversity.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from Stressed Out About Your Nursing Career. Check out our most popular nursing resources here.