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What Your Charge Nurse Wants You to Know

Recently I asked @wheresthecharge, an anonymous charge nurse on Twitter, what she’d like clinical bedside nurses to know. @wheresthecharge also blogs at wheresthecharge. Here’s her guest post:

We may not be the smartest person in the room. We may not even be the most experienced health care provider on the floor. We do know how to iron out the wrinkles in any one given shift. Or at least, we know how to figure out what to do with what we are given.

As your charge nurses, we are dedicated to the smooth operation of a unit ‘based on what we are told’. The key point is that we can only help, if we are informed.what your charge nurse wants you to know

Yes, we may be able to anticipate situations where we may be of assistance such as when a new grad performs a venipuncture for the first time. However, often there are times where issues that should be communicated in a timely manner are not. Nothing can be done without awareness of the matter at hand. This includes things such as:

  • Horizontal/vertical bullying
  • Suspicions of abuse
  • Potential for crossing of professional boundaries
  • Discomfort with assigned patients, tasks
  • Mental illness, substance abuse or physical injuries impacting performance
  • Errors/mistakes that occurred in the provision of care

One of the most important things to remember is if something bothers you and you don’t know what to do, tell your charge nurse sooner rather than later. Never assume that:

  • You will get in trouble if you say something
  • Everything will work itself out
  • What bothers you is minor

There was a time when we brought more than one fresh face to the floor. I had partnered each new person with a veteran. From that point, I had left it to the nursing professionals to show them the ropes. By the end of the shift, I had approached each trainee and asked, “How was your first shift? Any questions, comments, concerns?” With no expressed apprehensions and signs of discomfort, I believed that it was a good day.

As the shifts went by, I noticed that I had not seen one of the new hires. When I had approached management to inquire about that staff member… they stated that she had quit via phone call. For privacy and confidentiality, the reasons for her leaving were not disclosed to me. I never found out what happened to her and I don’t know if there was anything that I could have done to prevent her from leaving…Read Nursings Dirty Little Secret 

It is better to communicate your thoughts and get support in dealing with it – rather than waging a one-sided war with your conscience.

As your charge nurses, we are here to make you feel confident in being a member of the interdisciplinary team. Then when there are times you feel subpar, we are still here for you so long as you reach out. Know, that we are only as supportive as you allow us to be.

 Thank you to @wheresthecharge for her insight! It’s true that your charge nurse is often your best resource when questions arise. Remember you are not alone:) 

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author “Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job..and your next!” 

Come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth  career column at for all kinds of  entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question :) 

About Beth Hawkes (146 Articles)
Nice to meet you! I'm a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in acute care, a writer, speaker and career columnist.

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