The experience of being new in the role of Charge Nurse
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The role of the charge nurse has evolved during recent years and increased in complexity. The role has developed from one of solely clinical expertise and clinical leadership to that of resource/financial management, quality facilitation and practice development (Castledine, 2001; Eiloart & Field, 1998; Willmot, 1998). The current literature describes the skills required by charge nurses to be competent in the role but little attention has been given to the charge nurse’s perception of their role (Connelly, Yoder & Miner-Williams, 2003; Foster, 2000). This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to interpret the stories and experiences of charge nurses new to the role. Four charge nurses from the Auckland region participated in the study. Qualitative data was collected using in-depth interviews and transcriptions of the interviews were analysed for their thematic content. This analytical process was informed by van Manen (1997). Three essential themes emerged from the data; becoming a charge nurse, finding one’s feet and growing in the role. Together with eight sub–themes they provide an understanding of the meaning of being new in the role of the charge nurse. The findings of this study highlight the need for preparation for the role, the responsibility of the role and the power and influence that the role can command. On the basis of these findings, recommendations are made for practice, education and further research.