Employment as a Charge Nurse: What to Expect

NursingMarch 11, 2014

Those of you who aspire to a leadership role in a health field may be interested in becoming a charge nurse. This multifaceted position focuses on administrative and managerial duties, but also includes treating a small number of patients. The goal of all your responsibilities will revolve around maintaining a high quality of patient care within the unit you supervise.

Administrative Duties

Your job will involve an array of administrative functions, including maintaining inventories of supplies, making staff schedules and informing nurses of protocol changes. You may also plan budgets and offer clerical help to the hospital staff.

Managerial Duties

As the manager of a hospital unit or shift, your charge nurse responsibilities will include overseeing the admission and discharge of patients in addition to assigning nurses and support staff to them. Another duty will be managing patient flow — a task that necessitates knowing when to allow in more patients and when to refuse them because of insufficient staff.

In this supervisory position, you will evaluate, counsel and monitor the performances of nurses; these are duties that involve correcting the negatives and praising the positives. Meeting with upper management to discuss and resolve personnel and administrative problems is also included.

The education and training of staff element of your work may involve developing training courses and organizing seminars. Charge nurses act as educational resources, a role comprised of answering questions, providing guidance in caring for special needs patients and helping nurses create individualized patient care plans.

Patient Care

Although the primary emphasis of your job is managerial in nature, you will also provide patient care. This entails a broad spectrum of duties such as monitoring vital signs, administering medications and hanging IVs along with deciphering doctors' orders and assisting in lifting.

How to Get a Job as a Charge Nurse

Education and experience are the prerequisites for the position. Your first step is to become a registered nurse through licensure following the attainment of an Associate Degree in Nursing, a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing or a diploma in an accredited nursing program. A few years of nursing experience are generally required as well as the demonstration of leadership abilities. Additionally, good written and verbal communication skills are needed because of the responsibilities inherent in the role.

Charge Nurse Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May of 2012, the national average income for registered nurses was $65,470. While the compensation will vary with the geographic location and type of facility where you work, this figure will give you an approximate idea of the salary. The BLS projects a 19 percent job growth for registered nurses through 2022.

This type of nurse is the glue that holds a unit together. The different dimensions of your role will serve to make a unit run efficiently and facilitate optimal functionality.

Photo Source: Flickr