Hard to believe I’ve been e-mailing the Google Doodle team for almost a week! I’ve learned so much already – about nursing, about writing, about myself.
Today, I’m on a train to Philly to see family. It’s the first day of Spring break, and it’s beautiful out. I just couldn’t bear to look at Google or Academic Search Complete today, so I wrote from the heart about today’s RN innovator.
Some of The Charge Nurses of my nursing life have touched me as deep as family. They’ve saved me when I’ve gotten lost, and taught me with strength and patience. Yes, of course, every single one is an innovative monster who eats Google Doodles for breakfast.
Subject: Why Nurses Need A Google Doodle: #RNgoogledoodle Innovator No. 6
Here I am again on Day 6 of my experiment to convince you that living American nurses need a doodle this coming National Nurses Day.
It’s drop dead gorgeous over here in NY, and today is the first day of a long-awaited spring break. Thanks be to the gods of weather and syllabi.
In the spirit of vacation from academia, today I decided to tell you about a nurse innovator who you’ll likely not find in a peer-reviewed journal, or newspaper, or even the long lists of results on your fine site. This nurse comes from the shifts of my experience: The Charge Nurse.
The charge nurse works in every hospital unit in the country, innovatively managing, saving, organizing and communicating with more patients than anyone you’ll find in a hall of fame. This nurse is a leader who dynamically solves the billion problems of the shift, often before they even arise — from how to arrange patients in the unit according to infections, acuity and double name, to locating a lost set of dentures or supervising an emergency. The best ones draw on every resource on hand; each employee is a team member with expertise to benefit from.
The most innovative charge nurses know what’s going on with my patients better than I do. They challenge me to change my focus when I start to complain about an unfair assignment or a lazy colleague. One charge nurse, a small, direct little woman, stopped me mid-sentence one shift, when I started to complain about being assigned an ER admission two days in a row: “Why complain? This is the job we signed up for, isn’t it?”
They mysteriously appear when you’re drowning and your patient is circling the drain; like reinforcement troops, at your side, on your team, ready to fight. Sometimes, they have no patients of their own, working for everyone’s benefit. Other charge nurses have a full assignment, expected to operationalize the unit while caring for their own sick patients.
I’ve seen charge nurses change garbages, push patients to surgery, run codes, console crying families, and very rarely take pee breaks. They’re always one step ahead of the doctors, and 100% behind the nurses. If you get the chance to work with one of the legends, you’ll quickly find that they have answers, tricks and troubleshoots for every problem.
Most charge nurses have no choice in their role, some don’t receive extra pay, and those that do far outwork the small amount. They are the head of the operating core of each unit, and we’d all be lost without them.
Let me know if you’d like a personal introduction to some of the country’s superstar charge nurses. I’m lucky, I’ve worked with many, learning from their creativity and innovation all the while.
Amanda Anderson, RN