If you are considering a career in nursing, then you should know that being a charge nurse is one of the most important types of nursing jobs you can have.
A charge nurse is responsible not only as a caretaker but also for managing the crew of nurses working on the same floor.
The responsibilities of a charge nurse are versatile and varied. Your specific responsibilities as a charge nurse will be determined mainly by the type of unit or institution in which you work.
To know the responsibilities a charge nurse has to handle, you can talk with your nursing manager or consult a trusted veteran nurse. If you want to become a charge nurse, then this article will help you understand what you should know before becoming a charge nurse.
Essential Qualities for Becoming a Charge Nurse
Every charge nurse has slightly different responsibilities, but the qualities needed to become a successful charge nurse remain the same. There are some qualities that are found in all successful charge nurses.
Here’s a list of essential qualities for becoming a charge nurse:
1 – Knowing Nursing Protocols and Updated Nursing Practice
There is a perfectly valid reason why hospitals or clinics do not let new nurses be charge nurses.
One of the main reasons for this is that as a charge nurse, you must have in-depth knowledge of unit and facility guidelines, up-to-date nursing, and medical best practices.
This job can be extremely tough to handle if you are not well-versed in up-to-date nursing and medical guidelines.
2 – High Critical Thinking Skills
There is a distinct difference between being knowledgeable about something and being able to apply this knowledge to practical use. However, It often involves having the ability to think outside the box when you face different factors and circumstances while working as a charge nurse.
3 – Assertive and Confident
As a charge nurse, you are responsible for several different people and personalities. It is pretty challenging to lead and manage so many different personalities. However, if you are confident and assertive, you can decide and be ready to face any challenge or query thrown at you.
Charge nurses have to deal with patients and staff members. As a result, some of them might not want to do things that are not beneficial to them without worrying about their impact on other staff members and patients.
In such situations, you will need to stand up and practically deal with difficult staff members.
4 – Having High-Level Communication Skills
Charge nurses are like leaders who need to have great communication skills. If you look at any must-have qualities list for leaders, you will find excellent communication skills as one of the top priorities. It is true for even normal registered nurses and nursing aides.
The reason for having great communication skills is that medical unit members usually have members from multiple disciplines treating the same patient. A disruption in communication can often cause terrible patient outcomes. If a charge nurse does not have sufficient communication skills, this can be magnified on multiple patients, staff members, and the unit you run.
A charge nurse must be able to explain their views and choices exactly and effectively.
5 – Levity and Comfort
This may sound inappropriate for a hospital setting, but it is not so. Though being assertive as a charge nurse is important, there are also times when you may need to relax and joke around. This is a form of coping mechanism for many who work in the health care industry, especially front-line and first responders.
Lightening the mood in an otherwise serious situation or circumstance can help increase productivity.
6 – Ability to See the Bigger Picture
As a charge nurse, one of your main responsibilities is delegating tasks to the nurses working under you and ensuring the unit runs smoothly. For example, in some facilities and units, charge nurses delegate the patient and room assignments to other nurses.
As the floor nurses are mostly focused on their individual patients, a charge nurse will need to include every patient in their unit, thus being able to see the bigger picture of running the unit smoothly.
7 – Pursuit of Excellent and Hard Work
Slacking is a strict no-no for nurses. An attitude of indifference or laziness will make everyone’s life difficult in the unit. As a charge nurse, you must pursue excellence in everything you do. You need to be the role model and inspiration for the other nurses working in your unit.
8 – Own Up to Mistakes
No one is perfect, and even nurses are bound to make mistakes sooner or later. However, when you make a mistake, you must own up to it and not try to cover it up. Trying to cover up an error in a healthcare facility can often result in drastic patient outcomes.
These are the top things you should know before becoming a charge nurse. Make sure to inculcate these qualities in you if you want to succeed as a charge nurse. Leadership qualities and empathy are extremely important features for a successful charge nurse.