Duties and responsibilities
Charge nurses are responsible for overseeing a specific department within a healthcare facility. A charge nurse takes on some managerial responsibilities for other nurses and support staff on a shift. The typical duties and responsibilities of a charge nurse include:
- Providing clear leadership for the nursing team when they are on shift
- Reviewing the hospital rota to ensure effective and appropriate deployment of staff
- Supporting senior healthcare staff in the management of the ward or unit
- Working collaboratively with other healthcare workers in a multi-disciplinary team
- Contributing to pre-admission assessment of referred patients
- Supporting the nursing team and contributing to patient assessments, compiling a plan of care alongside the individual, and monitoring patient progress.
- Contributing to the development of others within the team through supervision, mentoring and positive role modelling
- Mentoring and supporting student nurses
Charge nurses tend to be registered nurses (RNs) with advanced education, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Some employers may prefer charge nurses who have a Master of Science in Nursing degree, as this can provide you with the management and leadership skills needed to become a charge nurse.
Skills and relevant work experience
Charge nurses will need experience working in a nursing team. They will also need to be physically fit in order to keep up with the demands of nursing. Charge nurses must also have:
- Leadership skills, as charge nurses will have to manage and instruct small teams of other nurses and healthcare professionals
- Written and verbal communication skills, as charge nurses will have to keep patient records up to date. Charge nurses will also need to clearly communicate with patients and coworkers
- Critical thinking, as charge nurses will need to come up with solutions when a patient isn’t responding well to treatment
- Compassion and empathy, as charge nurses must be caring and understanding when working with patients and other team members
- Organizational skills, as charge nurses will have to work with multiple patients and instruct multiple team members. Therefore, they will need to coordinate numerous treatment plans and instructions
Charge nurses usually work in shifts to provide round-the-clock coverage, this means that they may work nights, weekends, and holidays. Charge nurses can also be on call, which means that they are on duty and must be available to work on short notice.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for registered nurses in the United States – which includes charge nurses – was $73,300 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,080, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,220.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses, which includes charge nurses, is projected to grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Generally, registered nurses who have a bachelor of science degree in nursing will have better job prospects than those without one. A charge nurse job is the stepping stone to higher-level positions in nursing management.