Charge nurses supervise and support a nursing staff, while also treating a limited number of patients. They 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 that offers a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing and obtain state licensure.
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, as well as providing administrative support and patient care. A hospital, clinic or healthcare 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 able to prioritize and adapt during emergencies.
Charge nurses provide guidance on administering care to new patients or those with special needs and answer questions regarding protocol. They 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 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
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of registered nurses would increase 16% during the 2014-2024 decade. This was must faster than the average for other occupations. The BLS also reported that RN's earned a mean annual salary of $71,000 as of May 2015.
In summary, charge nurses are experienced registered nurses who have managerial, administrative, and nursing duties.