Mindful Staffing: A Qualitative Description of Charge Nurses’ Decision-Making Behaviors

Patient outcomes are linked to nurse staffing. Although charge nurses are responsible for intrashift staffing decisions, little is known about their decision-making behaviors. This study describes the behaviors of charge nurses from the perspective of charge nurses, nurse managers, and staff nurses. This qualitative descriptive study was conducted with a sample of 24 nurses. The findings revealed that staffing the unit was the most important role for charge nurses. Charge nurses reported spending up to 90% of a shift resolving intrashift staffing issues. Five effective decision-making behaviors emerged: (a) resourcefulness, (b) tactful communication, (c) flexibility, (d) decisiveness, and (e) awareness of the big picture. These behaviors of charge nurses are similar to mindful behaviors of workers in hazardous work environments, and are therefore described as mindful staffing. Practice implications and considerations for the education of charge nurses in relation to safe intrashift staffing are suggested by the findings of this study.