6 Reasons to Budget for Charge Nurse Development in 2020

In 2020, there is excitement and intention around preparing less experienced nurses for future leadership roles. Hospital leadership is seeing Baby Boom nurse retirements looming, plus more C-suite Nursing leaders are acknowledging the valuable role that first-level supervisory nurses play. Nurse executives are putting this thinking into action by budgeting for Charge RN development in 2020.

The truth is, the Charge RN role is a position that many nurses may not proactively seek. Clinical nursing education typically does not prepare bedside nurses for supervisory responsibilities. Many hospitals still have no formal program to prepare nurses for this “promotion”, although this is changing. There is now increased awareness within health systems that a lack of role clarity and management skill leads to inefficiency and job dissatisfaction. When a nurse is frustrated with a first leadership experience, it is possible she stops pursuing those roles.

Here are 6 reasons to budget for Charge Nurse development in 2020:

Make sure the role is clear, and has clear expectations
The initial step when preparing the first-level supervisory nurse is to define the role of the Charge RN inside the organization, then be consistent. Success is achieved when new Charge Nurses have a clear understanding of their goals and obligations. For example, determine whether the Charge Nurse will take on a full patient load. It should also be clear how the Charge Nurse should act in terms of delegating work to staff members and how he or she will be using computer systems and other technology. Development and planning for Charge Nurse leadership development helps establish expectations and gets nurses to buy in.

Job morale
When Catalyst Learning asks organizations why they are purchasing a Charge Nurse development program, we saw more organizations in 2018 stating that “job morale” is a key reason. A Charge Nurse serves as a resource to other nurses in terms of clinical direction, so preparing them helps job morale of the entire staff.  And during a crisis or conflict, the Charge sets the tone for everyone else. Organizations need someone who can be calm in emergency situations, and can keep an eye on the entire unit. Good communication skills are crucial, so developing nurses to inspire and commend staff members is important and helps with job morale. If you have a charge nurse who does not feel prepared to lead or does not feel excitement for challenges/opportunities the role presents, she is not going to put in as much effort and won’t enjoy the position.

As the baby boom generation heads for the door and younger nurses take charge, preparing staff members for these open leadership roles is time consuming. But this step in succession planning is necessary and highly beneficial. Many larger systems have an official nurse succession plan in place and Charge Nurse development is starting to become a part of those plans at U.S. hospitals. East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) has an official nurse succession plan which compliments its overall organization goals to develop employees from within. Read More – An Official Nurse Succession Plan at EAMC.

Alternative job perk
As the labor market is already near full employment and a nursing shortage looms, organizations are getting creative in offering non-traditional perks. Usually alternative perks are thought to just include lifestyle assistance programs/EAP’s, financial assistance programs, or free daycare, but investing in development of nurses shows how the hospital values their contributions and sees promise in potential, and becomes an alternative job perk. Be sure to communicate how Charge Nurse training shows organization excitement in the career path of its nurses.

More informed financial discussions with Nurse Managers and other Senior Leaders
Nursing executives generally agree that financial indicators of hospital success and reimbursement are often not understood by bedside nurses. This may be intentional, because nurse executives may not want to inundate nurses with too much information or bureaucracy. But there are several reasons to teach Charge RNs about financial issues they impact. It will prepare them for future leadership roles, allow them to have more informed conversations with Nurse Managers and other senior leaders, allows them to take an ownership stake in VBP, it improves nurse communication and can help save money. To learn more, refer to our related blog article, Why Teach Charge Nurses About Financial Success Indicators.

Positive first leadership experience produces a pipeline of future Nurse Managers
Setting expectations for the responsibilities and characteristics of a successful Charge Nurse by having an official orientation helps new nurse leaders embrace their role. Much research shows that nurses who have a bad experience in a first leadership role are more reluctant to pursue further leadership roles. If this promotion reluctance happens, filling Nurse Manager roles with qualified internal candidates becomes tougher than it already is. When a nurse is successful in leadership early, it is a benefit to your organization and fills the pipeline for future Nurse Managers.


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