Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Holding the frontline: The experience of being a charge nurse in an acute care setting
by Eggenberger, Terry L., Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2011, 163; 3462565
Abstract (Summary)

Within the current context of the healthcare environment, the charge nurse role has become very important for safety and positive outcomes. There is little known about the role from the perspective of the charge nurse. This qualitative descriptive exploratory study examined the experience of being a charge nurse in acute care practice, and describes how charge nurses live caring in their support of nurses and patients. Ray’s (1989, 2006) theory of Bureaucratic Caring, Swanson’s (2008) caring attributes and leadership, and Boykin and Schoenhofer’s (2001) theory of Nursing as Caring provided the theoretical lenses through which study findings were viewed.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 charge nurses in 4 acute care facilities. Eight themes emerged from an inductive analysis of the data describing the experience of being a charge nurse in acute care practice: Creating a Safety Net, Monitoring for Quality, Showing the Way, Completing the Puzzle, Managing the Flow, Making a Difference, Putting Out Fires, and Keeping Patients Happy. Participants also were asked questions about how they provide support to staff nurses and patients. Themes that reflected how charge nurses live caring in their support of staff and patients were: Jumping in the Trenches, Nurturing Staff Growth, Offering Authentic Presence, and Looking after Nurses. Additionally, the researcher used methods of narrative inquiry to get the participants to share stories of how they lived caring in their support of nurses and patients.

Recommendations included the need to elevate the visibility of the charge nurse role and its importance to the organization, and provide support for leadership development. Job descriptions and competencies for charge nurses must reflect the complexity of the environment. Charge nurse participants did not dialogue explicitly about their functions in terms of communication and intraprofessional team building. Since charge nurses have an increasing involvement with mentoring novice nurses and new staff, they would benefit from developing coaching skills. Given the current environment, their responsibilities in these areas may need to be better articulated so that they can focus on increasing these abilities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sherman, Rose O.
School: Florida Atlantic University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nursing
Keywords: Acute care setting, Charge nurses
Publication Number: 3462565
ISBN: 9781124740027
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