Quick Facts :
Charge Nurse

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon ADN or BSN
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth

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What Is a Charge Nurse?

Every healthcare facility, office, unit and ward needs some sort of leadership. Without it, the workplace would be disorganized and inefficient, leading to poor patient experiences and care. Healthcare providers address this issue by appointing “leaders” for each of their departments. These leaders are responsible for making sure everyone is doing their job and everything runs smoothly.

Charge nurses supervise a team of nurses and act as a liaison between staff nurses, other supervisors, and hospital administration. To be effective as a charge nurse, a person must have strong leadership skills, organizational skills, communication skills, and, of course, be seasoned in the clinical practice of nursing. A calm, empathetic, and assertive personality is also helpful if you aim to be an effective leader.

What Do Charge Nurses Do?

Charge nurses typically have a number of different responsibilities and duties, in addition to serving in the role of nurse, organizer, supervisor, disciplinarian, teacher, and patient advocate.

Above all, they have the same direct patient care responsibilities as the nurses they supervise. This involves caring for patients and maintaining a clean, safe, and sanitary work environment. As a charge nurse, you can expect to assist with monitoring and caring for patients, including recording vital signs and administering medications. Many charge nurses also work closely with care managers and physicians in an effort to create or update patient care plans.

One of the best traits for charge nurses to have is organizational skills. These nursing professionals are often responsible for making sure that the healthcare professionals in their areas or on their shifts have access to the necessary supplies and equipment. In order to do this, charge nurses must usually directly order necessary supplies or confer with their facility’s administration department. Charge nurses might also be responsible for overseeing the schedules of the nursing staff as well as the admissions, discharges, and transfers of patients to and from their areas.

Charge nurses are also responsible for a number of supervisory tasks as well. For instance, they may be responsible for meeting and conferring with their healthcare facility’s administrators or managers, and relaying any changes in protocol to the rest of the nursing staff. They might also need to evaluate and document the performance of the nursing staff and sometimes deal with unsatisfactory behavior or performance.

Charge nurses should also act as role models and may be required to provide any necessary training and orientation for new nursing staff members. They are typically expected to assist and teach the nurses under their supervision.

Finally, charge nurses are expected to assist other nurses in dealing with difficult patients. They may be called upon to act as mediators between patients and members of the nursing staff, and they may also need to look into complaints from patients as well.

Where Do Charge Nurses Work?

Nearly all healthcare facilities that employ nurses have charge nurse positions. These nursing professionals can often be found in hospitals, clinics, and private physician offices.

How Do I Become a Charge Nurse?

Becoming a charge nurse is typically less about education and training, and more about experience, ambition, personality, and performance. Of course, in order to become a charge nurse, you must first become a licensed nursing professional. This usually involves becoming an RN by earning your nursing degree and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Experience is also often a must before becoming a charge nurse. Generally, charge nurses are often required to have at least three years of nursing experience under their belts before they can assume this role. Some charge nurse positions may require additional experience, particularly if the position is for a specialty field.

Your performance working as a member of the nursing staff should be exemplary if you’re looking to eventually become a charge nurse. You’re more likely to be promoted to these types of supervisory positions if you demonstrate excellent leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Additional Resources For Charge Nurses