Setting SMART Goals as a Charge Nurse

Setting SMART Goals as a Charge Nurse

November 23, 2021
November 23, 2021

Goal setting is something that every charge nurse will do at some point in their career. They will set goals for their units or departments and they should also be setting career goals for themselves – goals that will help them improve their own performance, enhance their career opportunities, and improve their own satisfaction and engagement with their work while setting a solid professional example for employees in their units or departments.

The broad scope of responsibility for charge nurses requires a disciplined approach to personal goal setting. SMART goal setting is a time-tested, healthcare appropriate method that can help nurse leaders ensure that they are setting reasonable and achievable goals for themselves and their staff and growing in their careers. It can help a nurse leader apply the same rigor and discipline to professional goals as are likely being applied to their organizational goals.

What is a SMART Goal?

SMART is an acronym that helps set parameters for the kind of goal setting that really works. This approach can bring focus to the what, where, why, how and when questions that are essential to effective goal setting. Goals should be:

  • Specific – Goals that are overly broad can mean that they are open to interpretation and may be diluted over time. A SMART goal is focused and detailed.
  • Measurable – The ability to measure a goal is essential to understanding when progress is or is not being made. Establishing specific milestones and a definitive end helps define success and maintain motivation to keep going.
  • Attainable – Is the goal something that can be reasonably expected to be achieved? Are the necessary resources such as time, educational materials, etc. readily available?
  • Realistic – A SMART goal should be within your ability and skill set. Unrealistic goals can destroy motivation.
  • Time-Bound – Milestones and deadlines can be great motivators and provide feedback that will let you know if you are on track to achieve the goal or if you need to revise the steps to achieve the goal.

Setting SMART Goals

Even with the practical parameters set by the SMART goal setting process, getting started on your own professional goals might feel a bit overwhelming. This is likely because the job description for most charge nurses is extremely broad. Charge nurses need strong clinical knowledge and skills, good planning and management skills and the ability to evaluate their own nursing unit's performance including the performance of the providers who report to them. They need the kind of strong interpersonal skills that will facilitate the communication that will help their units be efficient and work well with other disciplines within the organization.

So where should a charge nurse start when setting goals for their own professional development? The most logical place to start is with where you would like for your nursing career to take you within the next five years and what you will need in order to land in that spot five years from now. Remembering the SMART acronym, establish a plan for each of the five years currently between you and your goal.

Don't forget to revisit your plan. Career aspirations change and your SMART goals can change too. Also, remember to take advantage of your organization's educational resources. It is likely that people performance solutions will be essential to each of your one and five year plans. Be sure that your solution offers:

  • The kind of content that specifically connects to your goals
  • The kind of reporting that helps you determine whether or not you are on track to meet your goals
  • The kind of engaging content that will make it easy for you to prioritize the educational components of your goals

If you are a charge nurse or have aspirations to be one, don't forget to set some SMART goals for yourself. Use the SMART goal planning process to build attainable goals for your team and yourself.