If you're thinking about becoming a charge nurse, you want to do more than just care for patients; you want to be a leader in your area. Charge nurses are in charge of certain areas and the countless tasks that keep a unit running efficiently. While charge nurses have bedside obligations, they are also in charge of scheduling and assigning assignments and responsibilities to each nurse. They guarantee that admissions and discharges go well, that all supplies and prescriptions are accessible when required, and that they are ready to interact with patients and family members if an issue arises.
Charge nurses are responsible for both patient care and leadership in their unit, department, or shift. Being a charge nurse allows you to leverage your years of nursing expertise to expand your career into management and become a role model for people around you, combining the best of both the clinical and management worlds.
Tasks and Responsibilities
As a charge nurse, you'll be in charge of ordering supplies, arranging nursing assignments for those on your shift, and delegating authority, all while interacting with your patients and their families. You'll continue to offer treatment while simultaneously overseeing admissions and discharges, and family members and patients will come to you with any concerns or difficulties.
Charge nurses operate in a variety of settings: anywhere there are nursing units that need even a basic degree of supervision, organization, and orientation for new employees, a charge nurse is needed. Charge nurse duties vary based on the department, speciality, and institution where they work, however they may include:
Treatment of patients
Managing patient care and delegating nurse responsibilities
Keeping track of admissions and discharges
Medicines and supplies are being monitored and ordered.
Providing support and advice to other team nurses
Keeping track of and evaluating nurse performance
Creating educational and training programs for nurses and employees
Great communication and organizational abilities, the ability to multitask and remain calm under pressure, and excellent interpersonal skills are all required of charge nurses.
According to Compensation.com, the national average salary for a charge nurse was $87,752 in March 2020, with a range starting at $81,499 and rising to $97,563. Charge nurse wages are determined by a variety of factors, including the nurse's degree of education, years of experience, the hospital's geographic location and the facility itself, as well as the skills and qualifications the nurse brings with them.
The most important factor in salary is years of experience, with Payscale.com showing a $9 per hour difference between a charge nurse's hourly income in their first year and what a charge nurse with over 20 years of experience might make.
It's crucial to remember that income isn't everything, and many companies provide perks like paid vacation and sick time, as well as health, dental, and vision insurance, prescription coverage, and even onsite daycare and tuition reimbursement.
How to Become a Charge Nurse
As a charge nurse, you will have a greater understanding of and accountability for all aspects of patient care. Not only do charge nurses continue to demonstrate their skill and compassion at the bedside, but they're also the person in charge of ensuring that staffing and supplies are well-coordinated, as well as being the initial point of contact between the floor team and hospital management.
To become a charge nurse, you must have all of the requirements for a certified Registered Nurse, as well as years of experience demonstrating the personal and professional qualities required for the role.
To become a charge nurse, you must:
Obtain ADN, BSN, or MSN degrees that take 2–5 years to complete.
Successful NCLEX-RN test
Have 3 years of clinical patient care experience, with the majority of that time spent in a speciality sector if you want to work on a specific unit.
Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree and Pass the NCLEX-RN
Step 2: Obtain Experience
Next to that, you should focus on earning at least three years of hands-on clinical nursing experience, and if you want to be a charge nurse in a certain profession, you should also pursue certifications to expand your skill set.
Step 3: Acquire and Possess Skills in Leadership
Most importantly, if you want to advance to charge nurse, you must demonstrate that you are a highly organized, compassionate, and capable leader. Charge nurses are multitaskers who can solve problems and stay calm under pressure. Working with patients and their families, as well as health care professionals at all levels, is required by the regulation, thus the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately is also essential.
Finding charge nurses with the necessary experience, expertise, and supervisory skills would be difficult under any circumstances, but the national nursing shortage has exacerbated the problem. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for nurses across all specialties will increase by 12% by 2028, with the demand for charge nurses, who have particular qualities and competencies, likely to be much higher.
There are no specific continuing education requirements for charge nurses, but some states do have nursing continuing education requirements for Registered Nurses, and if your charge nurse responsibilities are tied to a specialty area in which you've earned a certification, you'll need to keep your certification status current.
Nurses and charge nurses both benefit greatly from involvement in professional organizations relating to their chosen speciality. The American Organization for Nursing Leadership provides vital information that promotes professional nursing practice and helps career growth, despite the fact that there is no special organization dedicated to the problems that charge nurses confront. The Nurse.org website also has a wealth of information and helpful articles.