Catalyst Learning Blog


Articles, case studies, and success stories to guide and inspire healthcare HR, Organizational Development, and Clinical professionals.

Winning Strategies for Charge Nurses chardyadmin

Winning Strategies for Charge Nurses


When transitioning from a staff nurse to a charge nurse position, it is important for new charge nurses to build trust and respect within the unit. With increased responsibilities as well as co-workers to manage, it helps to have a plan and an understanding of key nurse leader skills. Here are three winning strategies to help ensure success:


  • Display Confidence: When charge nurses are confident in their ability to lead, it instills trust in their teams. Confident leaders inspire teams to work together, perform to the best of their ability and provide patients with the highest quality care.
  • Ignore Gossip: Leaders don’t gossip, and they don’t allow it to go on in their units, either. Gossip can have a significant impact on morale. Strong nurse leaders also ignore gossip that may be aimed at them.
  • Get to Know the Team: Charge nurses can be so consumed with their new role that they forget to check in with their teams. It’s important to make time to get to know co-workers. Listening to the ideas, concerns and interests of staff members is key to a supervisor’s success.


These skills and other behaviors can be emphasized through charge nurse leadership training. Learning programs that use real examples and scenarios will help charge nurses recognize where and how they can have a positive impact.


Many healthcare organizations invest in the development of new nurse leaders to increase engagement and retention, and ultimately improve patient care.  


NCharge, created by Catalyst Learning Company, offers an evidence-based curriculum that gives first level supervisory nurses the insights, interpersonal skills and business knowledge they need to more effectively manage, inspire and lead. Please contact Catalyst Learning for information on charge nurse leadership training and how to strengthen nurse leader skills within your healthcare organization.

5 Common Pitfalls for Frontline Supervisors, Charge Nurses chardyadmin

While strong performance often secure promotions in healthcare and nursing management, first-time supervisors may be navigating uncharted territory when it comes to leadership skills. In other words, the best employees don't always make the best leaders.


Gallup reports that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.


Poor leadership skills can have a ripple effect across a department or nursing unit. It's no secret that turnover can cost healthcare organizations thousands of dollars per employee.  


Healthcare organizations can be proactive on this front and position first-time supervisors for success. Below are five of the common pitfalls you can help your first time supervisors and charge nurses to avoid.


  • Over-supervising:

Anxious to excel in their new position, frontline supervisors and charge nurses may have a tendency to micro-manage their teams. This negatively impacts productivity and team development and can leave managers feeling overwhelmed.

  • Under-supervising:

Some new supervisors fail to provide adequate direction because they don't want to appear bossy among colleagues who, until recently, were their peers. This can negatively impact employee engagement and lead to increased turnover as well.

  • Failing to delegate:

Supervisors and charge nurses are in management positions because of their experience and knowledge, and sometimes they find it difficult to delegate tasks to those who are less experienced.

  • Blaming management: If a frontline supervisor or charge nurse is uncomfortable implementing policies and procedures, he or she may be inclined to shift blame to management. It's important that the management team demonstrate unity, even if they don't always agree.


  • Ignoring concerns of the team:

New managers can be so consumed with their new role and the increased responsibility that they forget to check-in with the team. Listening to the concerns of staff members is key to a supervisor's success.  


Frontline supervisors and charge nurses must have the ability to communicate well, think strategically and lead change; all while understanding and being tuned into team dynamics. When a healthcare organization invests in the development of promising leaders, the staff, upper management and patients also benefit. 

Three Key Traits of a Successful Charge Nurse chardyadmin

They’ve been compared to educators, mediators and even air traffic controllers. They may perform managerial tasks such as scheduling and evaluations, while also acting as liaisons to hospital leaders and physicians. They may often resolve conflicts and usually are agents of change setting a positive example for the entire staff. Ultimately, they must ensure the safety and care of patients in their unit.

These are just some of the roles and responsibilities of charge nurses. They are decisive and resourceful “veterans” who have gained experience on the job. In addition to their clinical competency, here are three nurse leader skills that will help charge nurses succeed:

1. The Ability to Lead and Motivate Others

Leadership is dependent on the ability to motivate others. A leader recognizes the individual strengths of every member of her team as well as their areas for improvement. The leader outlines the objectives for the team and clearly outlines each person’s responsibility. To motivate the team, a leader will offer empathy, advice, positive reinforcement or even terse but respectful orders. Of course, all these forms of direction require the charge nurse to have excellent communication skills.

2. Strong Critical Thinking Skills

In addition to being excellent communicators, nursing managers must also possess strong critical thinking skills. Charge nurses are responsible for making sure that staff members have appropriate training and qualifications for their respective assignments. They must match colleagues’ competencies with the needs of patients. Nurse leaders must also ensure adequate resources are available, policies are followed and regulatory requirements are met. In other words, they must be problem solvers throughout the process: recognizing issues before they arise, addressing them in real-time as they happen and providing measures to prevent similar issues in the future.

3. A Willingness to Embrace Change

Finally, charge nurses must possess a willingness to not only embrace change, but also champion it. As nurse leaders, they are in a unique position to see the big picture as well as the details that will improve patient care and staff morale. NCharge, a charge nurse leadership training program developed by Catalyst Learning Company, stresses the importance of being agents and champions of change. Leaders will challenge the status quo when it benefits the team and their objectives.

As leaders, charge nurses must embody all these qualities as they reinforce the strengths of the team and help ensure the greatest care for patients.

Catalyst Learning Customers Recognized at Upskill America Summit in DC chardyadmin


Even the White House takes notice when employers display the level of dedication to advancing front-line workers for which CLC's customers are known! On Friday 4/24, Mercy Health (Cincinnati), Norton Healthcare, TriHealth and UnityPoint Health represented all entry level healthcare champions who provide upward mobility for their associates.


At the White House Upskill Summit, employers were lauded for their success in helping their employees move into Middle Class jobs. Best practices for helping frontline workers develop new skills and earn higher wages were shared. Congratulations to all!  Read more about Norton and TriHealth's frontline efforts.

Why This Is a Really Big Deal   

Ongoing development at the entry level is not always the first thing on the minds of healthcare executives, even if it is smart business.  And recent challenges stemming from ACA make you wonder how these hospitals manage to prioritize these program and why they feel it's still so important. But then, that's what Catalyst Learning is all about:


"We are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with over 500 healthcare employers to increase the skills and upward mobility of entry and mid-level associates. It's a win for the organization in retention and engagement and a win for the associate who gains a career he/she never dreamed possible. Executives like Jenny, Molly, Tony and Joyce are making this happen from one end of America to the other - and we humbly and sincerely thank them for their partnership."  

- Lynn Fischer, Founder & CEO, Catalyst Learning Company


And for those still craving information on facilities using more flexible approaches and targeted academies, download the write-ups in the CLC blog.


Make a Commitment in Your Healthcare Organization

The Upskill Initiative is a public-private effort created to clear pathways for the more than 20 million workers in frontline jobs who may lack the opportunity to progress into higher-paying jobs. If you are interested in offering a career development system to your entry-level employees, please contact Catalyst Learning today.

Administrative Assistant Academy: Developing, Engaging and Promoting a Key Role in Patient Experience chardyadmin



HR leaders at a northern California Medical Center created an Administrative Assistant Academy (AAA) for all Admins, Hospital Unit Service Coordinators (HUSC), Medical Office Service Coordinators (MOSC), as well as employees interested in transitioning to an administrative role. These vital, entry level workers are often the first line of contact for a patient or family and can directly impact patient flow.


A training program for the Admin team members had once existed HR leaders...DOWNLOAD THE STUDY

Navigating the Shift to Outpatient Care chardyadmin
Expanding outpatient services is becoming the norm for some healthcare systems as they look to improve patient care. Naturally, more outpatient visits means fewer inpatient stays, and a shift in how healthcare organizations generate revenue. For many networks, the movement is also forcing widespread cultural and operational changes.
Outpatient care is at the forefront of both short-term and long-term planning as it impacts everything from communicating with patients to employee training to building design.  
Healthcare executives advise the following for integrating outpatient services with inpatient care:  
1.    Cross-train inpatient and outpatient employees so that there is a mutual understanding of different approaches and services.
2.    Ensure that both clinical and non-clinical employees are operating at levels that match their capabilities. Provide education and training opportunities for those who wish to advance their skill sets and careers.
3.    Promote a patient-centric culture that is focused on wellness and preventative care. Improve communications with both patients and their families who support their health.
4.    Help employees understand that profitability is a shared responsibility across the entire network - from hospitals to ambulatory care centers to home care agencies.
The move from inpatient to outpatient care can benefit both patients and healthcare organizations. Systems that invest, build and reorganize to deliver customer-focused care will find themselves one step ahead of this growing trend.
•"Connecting the Divide between Inpatient and Outpatient Care: A comprehensive practice platform blends evidence-based tools with team competency and compassion";
Michelle R. Troseth; Advance Healthcare Network, Executive Insight; August 2013.
•"The Great Migration"; Rebecca Vesely; Hospitals and Health Networks; March 2014.

Charge Nurse Development Benefits Patients, Staff and Profitability chardyadmin

When a unit is under the direction of a charge nurse, service recovery is an important part of their role. Whether they are coaching other RNs or answering directly to the patient or family, charge nurses can directly impact the patient experience.


The charge nurse's ability to communicate and lead can have a significant impact on management, patients and staff. With strong clinical skills they raise the bar on patient care, but charge nurses aren't always comfortable with the leadership side of their role.


A focus on charge nurse development can improve employee engagement and patient care. Healthcare organizations that empower charge nurses to lead will achieve better results.


Research has shown that frontline leaders like charge nurses play an important role in keeping team members engaged. They also serve as the first line of defense when there is an upset patient or visitor. These skills can be learned and strengthened through dedicated training.


First, help charge nurses assess their leadership skills by exploring questions such as:

  • How well do you connect with your team? Are you comfortable offering feedback - both positive and constructive - to your teammates? Do your teammates feel as if their concerns are being heard? Do you observe signs of frustration?
  • Do you effectively communicate with management regarding your team's performance? Do you inform management of challenges and opportunities for recognition?

  • Do you actively listen to patients? Do you make an effort to refer to patients by name? Do you make a conscious effort to avoid healthcare jargon when speaking with patients and their families?


Key Skills that Benefit Patients and Staff

With greater self-awareness, charge nurses will have a better understanding of the key skills they can put to use right away to benefit patients and staff. Training outcomes for charge nurses should include the ability to:


  • Recognize key drivers of employee engagement and patient experience of care.
  • Examine the link between employee engagement and patient experience of care.
  • Analyze the role of the charge nurse in promoting employee engagement.
  • Assess your personal proficiency in promoting employee engagement.
  • Employ recognized skills of active listening, service recovery, effective feedback, and recognition to improve employee engagement and patient experience of care.



HR, OD, and the Culture of Patient Safety chardyadmin


Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs) are a major issue in healthcare today and it seems high on everyone's priorities to get good at preventing them. HACs like the ones in the infographic below, impact the patient's health, the family's perception of care, and the hospital's financial status - ouch!  


*Image credit to NDNQI

Hospitals may take many steps to reduce the number of HACs including forming committees and work groups, improving documentation, data mining, and root-cause analysis.

The HR/OD Connection

Ultimately, most of our readers come in when a learning opportunity is revealed and leadership is asking for help. The role of OD in clinical education varies but they  

may hear questions like these:


When a healthcare employee observes another who is not adhering to a Patient Safety standard, why are they not reporting it? Did they confront their colleague? If not, why?  How can we enable a culture that fosters safety and accountability?


What Can I Do? 

Explore the list of skills and behavioral competencies below that contribute to a safe treatment environment. Assessment and improvement in these areas can be championed by the HR or OD department - a challenge they may not be accustomed to answering! If HACs are a priority in your organization, you may find a new opportunity to improve the quality of care delivered by your frontline staff.

Competencies for a Culture of Safety in Healthcare

1 Zimlichman E., Henderson D., Tamir O., et al. Health Care-Associated Infections: A Meta-analysis of Costs and Financial Impact on the US Health Care System. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(22):2039-2046. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9763

2 Wong, C., et al. (2011) The cost of serious fall-related injuries in three Midwestern hospitals. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 27(2), 81-87. Retrieved from pubmed/21939135.

3 Spetz, J., Brown, D., Aydin, C., & Donaldson, N. (2013) The value of reducing hospital-acquired pressure ulcer prevalence: an illustrative analysis. Journal of Nursing Administration, 41(4), 235-241. Retrieved from