Welll. I worked my first shift on my own as big girl charge, y'all. The ER did not collapse into a pile of rubble or burn to the ground and no one made me cry. Yet.
I have a new respect for the position. As in, I stand in admiration and awe of any of our charge nurses that are able to pull their shit together long enough to have time to help out frequently with patient care. I had spaghetti brains in the worst way, like I haven't experienced since I was a brand new nurse. I was inundated with so many different requests that I would get distracted just walking across the nurses' station. You've usually got the phone on one ear with multiple people talking in your other ear, so all the auditory input was just scrambling in my brain and all my responses were getting mixed together word salad style. I felt like a HUGE spazz. But I know I'm at least making progress. A few things I've learned already:
-Despite being less physically demanding, I feel about one thousand times more exhausted after charging than I do after working in staffing. Probably because of the constant muscle tension associated with the underlying fear or doing something incredibly stupid, like transferring the wrong patient or something.
-People seem to respond to a work ethic at least. I mean, maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was very surprised by my teammates. They seemed to take note of how much I was running around and either felt sorry for me or responded to my working hard and being nice, because every time I looked up, people were cleaning their own rooms and filling them up. So much that one of the doctors got mad about it. Oh well. Which brings me to...
-Shrugging with a whatevs look seems to be the best policy for dealing with most petty arguments/hissy fits/backhanded comments. Somebody hurt your feelings during report? Either ignore it, be a bitch back like I would, or file a complaint to HR. I have no real authority, I really don't care, and I have real shit to do.
-When your manager calls to check to see how things are going, I guess responding with, "yeah, I have no idea how many people left without being seen, probably a lot, a million people just checked in, we've been getting killed with ambulances and also someone wanted to come in extra and I said yes I hope that's cool because they're already here" probably isn't the best thing to say.
-Unspecified department problems are by default, your problems. The doctor's printer is out of paper? HELP ME CHARGE NURSE! The coffee machine is broken? Hello, did you not learn coffee machine CPR in nursing school? Cray cray people want to call and ask for medical advice about cray cray shit? Forward to charge phone. Random foot-fetishist who is neither a patient nor a visitor is scurrying around the unit sniffing patient's shoes? Get the charge net, gotta catch 'em all!
Anyway, the verdict is, this sucks, but I know I'm learning new things and that's good for me. But if I was doing it for the money, it wouldn't be worth it. Such is nursing in general, I guess.