The Charge Nurse Manager role
The aim of this study is to understand the experiences of charge nurse managers (CNMs) and the broad influences that impact them in their role where nurses are expected to be managers and leaders. The research began with an assumption that the complexity of the role was such that the role was problematic. If charge nurse managers are not prepared for the role there is potential for role confusion, role limitation or role overload. This is a qualitative exploratory descriptive study situated within the interpretive paradigm. Interpretivism focuses on how people make sense of reality in their everyday setting. The purpose of the study is to explore what enables, restricts or limits charge nurse managers to function as effective managers and leaders within a public health organization. Twelve participants, charge nurse managers working in a District Health Board, were interviewed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Research findings suggest that role clarity, business management skills and the level of expectation were an issue. These three themes suggest that because the guidelines to the role were unclear, role complexity resulted, because of the lack of business management skills, role limitation occurred and because a level of expectation was at times high, sometimes unrealistic, role overload resulted. The research findings support the assumption at the beginning of the research that the complexity of the charge nurse manager role was such that the role was problematic. The assumption was further supported in this study in which it was evident that the role complexity caused role confusion, role overload and role limitation. It was also clear that there was an anomaly regarding job satisfaction. While the charge nurse managers were challenged in the role it was evident that they loved the work they did and reported significant job satisfaction, despite difficult working conditions. While role issues remain critical in this research the new knowledge generated will provide information for charge nurse manager professional leadership development.