Wednesday, June 15, 2011


So I've been a nurse for 2.5 years. A real, off orientation nurse for about 2 years. I'm not great at nursing. I like to think I'm a good nurse, and on my way to eventually becoming a great one, but I'm nowhere close. As in there is a megagram of shit I don't know. And I know that I know this, which sometimes makes it a little awkward when a coworker is all like damn girl, you rocked that code, well done. Because knowing how much I don't know, I sometimes feel like I'm just a mediocre nurse who got lucky that day and really has everyone fooled.

Here is where the situation gets a bit sticky. On night shift we're essentially being bent over and told to hold our ankles, because management has run out not one - not two - not three - four fantastic nurses to neighboring ERs because of how crappy we are treated in many respects. These nurses were all career ER people - people who if I ever wreck my car or accidentally fall into a wood chipper, I pray that they are working. Now they are being driven out in mass numbers. This is where the dilemma lays: the fourth nurse is a Charge Nurse. So since we will be down to only two FT charges, there is a need for some people to be trained as relief charge*.

And here is why I'm in a bit of a pickle**.

The manager has asked me to train as relief charge.


I told him I'd think about it, but really all I can hear in my head is someone screaming INEXPERIENCE! NEWBIE! YOU'LL ACCIDENTALLY IMPLODE THE DEPARTMENT! I truly am flattered by the offer, and the teeny part of me who wants to advance in my career is like oh hell yeah I'll do this, but the much more rational part absolutely knows that I really am too inexperienced to do charge. I'm know I'm not viewed as a complete moron by the current charges, because some of them have mentioned this before. Really though, I feel like I need more years of experience before I can competently keep the department from burning down.

The pickle is that I don't want to piss off management by just saying no since they can and have made life hell for these other nurses, but I also am not willing to take something I am nowhere near ready for.

Help. Advice?
* Part of the fuckery that happened to the nurses is this: A (recently)current relief charge nurse noticed one of the new nurses engaging in some very stupid decision making, with the actual life of a patient at risk. Relief charge went to the nurse and mentioned her concerns, and stated that the new nurse maybe needed to change her ways. New nurse, instead of being like "this is embarrassing but oh yeah I almost just killed someone, maybe I should listen," instead went to the manager and wrote up the relief charge. Manager went to relief charge and chewed her out, and then took away the position of relief charge because she "needs to learn to be nicer." Srsly.

** I was kinda scared to google search the term "pickle." Maybe I'm just a paranoid with the sense of humor of a fifth grader, because all that showed up on the first page guessed it...pickles.


newnurseinthehood said...

That's a tough one. I'm not sure experience is really that big a factor when it comes to being a charge nurse. Not to say it isn't important at all, but it isn't number one. The best charge nurses in my department are some of the less experienced ones- most have been nurses for only 3 years or so, and another for a little less than 2. We have people that have been nurses for longer who do not charge and have no business for even being considered for it. Our best charge nurses are the ones that don't get flustered and keep making rational decisions even when the bad shit is going down, are fair in their distribution of patients, willing to work hard enough to help everyone, and are thick skinned enough to not get upset and act dramatic when their coworkers get upset about an issue.
I think it's more of an inherent personality issue than anything else. They obviously see something like that in you, it's just an issue of whether you're ready to take on the bullshit associated with being a charge nurse. Sounds like it's a pretty extensive set of bullshit where you work. Good luck to you, I'm sure you'll kick some ass either way.

Anonymous said...

I would be less worried about your experience and more worried about the lack of support from your management.

Sean said...

I say do it.
What have you got to lose, really? It's just another challenge.
I mean, I would recommend the challenge if you think 'charge' or any type of management in nursing is in your future.
Ask any current or former charge nurses, you'll never know if you want/ like it til you try.
And there is no amount of 'experience' or time that is right or wrong - it's all about you and your comfort and confidence.
I say go for it.

Anonymous said...

You will always feel like you could use more experience. I have been a nurse for 10 years now and I know I still feel that way. The only way to become comfortable being charge: BE charge. Know that you don't know everything and you are already halfway to being good at it. . . .