Charge Nurse Duties and Responsibilities

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a charge nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Charge nurses supervise and support a nursing staff while also treating a limited number of patients. Charge nurses are responsible for maintaining a high level of patient care, evaluating other nurses and acting as an educational resource for nurses. Like all registered nurses (RNs), charge nurses must complete a postsecondary education program in nursing and obtain proper licensure.

Required Education Associate's degree, bachelor's degree or diploma in nursing
Other Requirements RN license
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*19% for all registered nurses
Median Salary (2014)** $75,318

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Managerial Duties and Responsibilities

Charge nurses are experienced registered nurses who have displayed leadership, management and communication skills. They are responsible for managing, supervising and assisting the nursing staff, providing administrative support and patient care. A hospital, clinic or health care facility may have several charge nurses, each responsible for a different shift, department or specialized unit.

Regular duties include directing the admission, discharge and general flow of patients, and assigning nurses and support staff to patients. While daily goals must be met, effective charge nurses are flexible and are able to prioritize and adapt during emergencies.

Charge nurses provide guidance on administering care to new patients or those with special needs and answering questions regarding protocol. Charge nurses frequently work with other nurses and patients to create a plan of care that is individualized to a patient's needs. Charge nurses develop and implement training courses and organize seminars to help educate and train new nurses and staff.

As shift supervisors, charge nurses document the performance of nurses, perform evaluations and counsel nurses on unsatisfactory performance. In addition, they meet with upper management to discuss personnel and administrative issues and address and solve problems among staff.

Administrative Duties and Responsibilities

Aside from managerial responsibilities, charge nurses perform administrative duties including creating schedules, maintaining adequate supplies and informing staff of changes to protocol. In some settings, charge nurses plan budgets for the nursing staff and may provide clerical assistance to the hospital staff.

Nursing Duties and Responsibilities

While most duties and responsibilities are managerial and administrative, charge nurses also provide some patient care. Although the number of patients and relative difficulty of each case may vary depending on the shift, department and type of facility, charge nurses assess and monitor patients. Other duties include monitoring vital signs, conferring with doctors on a patient's progress and reporting special circumstances.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

Employment growth for all registered nurses, which could include charge nurses, is projected to be 19% during the 2012-2022 period, states the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $66,220 as of May 2013, the BLS reports ( Reports on in January 2015 indicate that the median salary for charge nurses is $75,318.

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