Hospital Charge Nurse: Job Description and Career Info

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

Hospital charge nurses manage a department, ward, or unit in a hospital or other medical facility. These positions can be filled by either a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse. They perform administrative duties, supervise the nursing staff, admit and discharge patients, and maintain and inventory medical supplies.

Essential Information

A hospital charge nurse is responsible for the operation and management of a hospital facility or department, and performs regular nursing assignments, such as patient care, while acting as a manager and completing administrative tasks. Hospital charge nurses are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs), and usually have many years of nursing experience. They make sure their department or unit runs smoothly. They often field questions and complaints from patients and families as well as serve as a source of information for the nurses who work with them.

Required Education Diploma or certificate in practical nursing Associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing
Other Requirements Current LPN license Current RN license
Projected Job Growth (2014-24)* 16% for all LPNs 16% for all RNs
Median Salary (2016)** $41,806 $66,030

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com

Hospital Charge Nurse Job Description

Hospital charge nurses, who can be either an LPN or RN, are responsible for administrative and managerial duties in a specific department, ward or unit. They admit and discharge patients, supervise the nursing staff and maintain medicine and supply inventories. Charge nurses organize and maintain patient records, help develop hospital patient care programs and field complaints and questions from both patients and staff.

Administrative duties of hospital charge nurses are in addition to nursing tasks such as caring for patients and administering medicine. Charge nurses act as a resource for the nurses who work under them. Charge nurses may be required to conduct education or training programs for new nurses.

Hospital nurses must have a degree in nursing from an accredited school and an appropriate state license, which typically requires passing one of the NCLEX examinations. Registered Nurses take the NCLEX-RN and Licensed Practical Nurses take the NCLEX-PN.

Hospital Charge Nurse Career Information

Hospital charge nurses often begin their careers as LPNs. The BLS predicts higher-than-average job growth for LPNs between 2014 and 2024 as a result of aging baby boomers and a high number of retiring LPNs over the decade. PayScale.com said the median salary for LPN charge nurses was about $42,000 in the winter of 2016.

According to PayScale.com, the median salary for charge nurses who were RNs was about $66,000 in January 2016. Job growth and career prospects are expected to be similar to that of LPNs. Charge nurses with an associate degree and RN credential may enroll in an accelerated RN-to-BSN program to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to qualify for more advanced nursing administration positions.

A hospital charge nurse must be licensed as an LPN or RN, and most of these professionals also have experience in the field. The number of job opportunities for LPNs and RNs is expected to increase faster than average from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for a charge nurse is about $66,000 for an RN, and about $42,000 for an LPN.

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