A really good day at work

I walked into work this morning ready for pretty much anything. But when they told me I was charge nurse, I groaned audibly.

For a whopping $1.50/hour extra, a charge nurse has the whole ED on her shoulders. She is the one who controls the attitude and climate of the unit, balances the patient load, prioritizes and re-prioritizes constantly, and keeps her staff, the doctors and the patients happy. It’s so not worth $1.50/hour.

And while I hate the responsibility, I also relish the challenge: today, I get to do this my way. And while I don’t do anything radically different, I am able to change the expectations of the staff a little. I can raise the bar.

Today turned out to be a great day. It was not very busy, just a steady manageable flow of patients. We had a quick, intelligent, even-keeled ED physician for the majority of the shift. And even when the slowest ED doctor on the roster took over in the afternoon, we were able to keep up the pace.

My team was comprised of nurses who ranged from inexperienced to seasoned, from efficient to slow, from frenetic to calm. We set our priorities early in the day: get the patients back quickly, make sure the triage nurse is always free for the next patient who walks in, and help each other out. With clear expectations, things went so much more smoothly.

There have been shifts during which I have been charge that went to hell in a handbasket, where we all felt happy that we merely survived. Today was not like that. Each nurse was happy at the end of today’s shift. Each of us felt like he/she succeeded in giving exemplary care to his/her patients. We actually had the time to do that for a change. What a treat.

This is the kind of shift that makes me look good. Talk about intermittent positive reinforcement.