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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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:
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 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 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 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23528690.