The duties of a charge nurse range from providing patient care to handling administrative responsibilities at the workplace. Charge nurses are qualified registered nurses or licensed practical nurses with years of experience in the healthcare industry.
If you think that you have leadership qualities and can manage dealing with patients, nurses and doctors then one of the positions available for you, is that of a charge nurse. This position requires people with excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to multi-task.
One of the key requirements for this position is clinical experience in nursing. An understanding of the healthcare procedures and administrative requirements is also needed. Charge nurses are employed by hospitals, clinics, and long-term healthcare facilities.
A charge nurse acts as a manager of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) on duty. They need to display leadership and negotiating skills as they act as a conduit between the on duty nurses, doctors and patients. Charge nurses are vital to the functioning of large healthcare facilities and play a vital role in middle management.
Duties and Responsibilities
Charge nurses supervise the overall functioning of the nursing unit and are responsible for delivering quality patient care on a designated shift. Their endeavor is to create a treatment plan that suits individual patient and speeds their recovery.
Admitting patients and completing discharge formalities is one of the administrative duties that they perform. They will then assist the RNs and LPNs in treating the patients. Assigning work to the nursing staff is also a part of the charge nurse duties.
They will go on rounds with the doctor, generate reports with the help of computers and then ensure that the doctor's orders are followed through by the nursing staff. A charge nurse acts as a resource for other nurses and at times can be seen mentoring them.
Due to the shortage of nursing staff most charge nurses will at times record vital signs of patients and administer medicines. They also train the nursing staff in patient care procedures.
Charge nurses are also responsible for maintaining inventories of medical supplies and put out orders for things that are in short supply. Most of their day is spent on doing paperwork like maintaining treatment records, insurance and claims forms.
Interacting with the patient's family members and answering their queries takes up some of their office time. Charge nurses handle the call bells and any medical emergency situations that may arise during their shift.
Education and Salary
If you are eying the charge nurse career then you have to complete a registered nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. Aspirants with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree stand a good chance of getting the charge nurse position.
You also need to complete your certification by giving the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN exam. Employers prefer candidates who at least have 4 years experience in patient care for charge nurse positions. Aspirants should also be familiar with the basic concepts and procedures of the healthcare system.
Charge nurse salaries are affected by various factors like location of the job, experience and educational qualification. According to national statistics the average charge nurse salary ranges anywhere between $55,000 to $80,000 per year.
They receive full benefit packages that include healthcare insurance, paid time off and pension contributions. Individuals with experience are rewarded in this profession and are known to make annual salaries that cross the $90,000 mark.
The job requires physically fit individuals as at times the working shift extends to 12 hours. Individuals who have an innate ability to empathize with patients and leadership qualities will do well in this profession.