Ask the expert: How can I identify staff members who will make good charge nurses?

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, August 11, 2009

This week, a reader asks about characteristics of good charge nurses. Read the response from Kathleen Garrison, MSN, RN, clinical nurse educator at Prince William Hospital in Manassas, VA

Q: What characteristics should I look for in staff members to determine whether they will make good charge nurses?

A: Being a charge nurse is a stressful position, as they often have to deal with irritated patients, families, physicians, and staff members.

All charge nurses should possess the following traits:

  • Fairness and honesty: Charge nurses often have to make difficult decisions, but if they are honest and fair 100% of the time, then peers will accept their difficult decisions
  • Flexibility: They must adapt to changing circumstances
  • Ability to maintain control: They must maintain a sense of calm and demonstrate confidence in their decisions and actions
  • Ability to motivate others: Asking others for their opinion or input shows that they value staff members as part of the team, which motivates the team to perform well
  • Positive attitude: Charge nurses must navigate through turmoil while stressing the positives and not the negatives

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