Charge nurses combine managerial skills and clinical experience.
If you aspire to apply your clinical nursing experience within a leadership role, a charge nurse position may be a perfect fit for you. In addition to caring for patients, a charge nurse assumes some managerial responsibilities for nurses and support staff on a particular shift. A charge nurse job is the stepping stone to higher-level positions in nursing management.
Responsibilities of a Charge Nurse
Charge nurses are responsible for overseeing a specific department within a healthcare facility for their assigned shift. Individuals in this role perform such duties as delegating nursing assignments, preparing schedules, overseeing admissions and discharges, and monitoring and ordering medicines and supplies. In addition to these managerial tasks, charge nurses also may carry a patient load depending on where they work and their shift.
Skills Needed to Succeed in This Job
Being able to balance administrative tasks and clinical care is an important skill for nurses in this position. Many charge nurses direct other nurses on patient care, providing guidance and advice. As shift managers, charge nurses may be required to document and evaluate the performance of the nurses under their supervision. Some charge nurses may assist in developing and implementing educational programs for other nurses and staff.
Excellent leadership, communication and interpersonal skills are critical for charge nurses to be successful. They are expected to motivate and lead their nursing staff, which requires that they are able to work effectively with different personalities. Charge nurses should have the knowledge and experience to answer staff and patient questions on a wide range of topics. Since charge nurses are required to prepare reports on patient progress and staff performance, strong written communication skills are essential.
Other skills and traits required by a charge nurse include:
- Attention to detail
- Good organizational and analytical skills
- Ability to quickly and accurately assess patients’ conditions
- A caring and sympathetic manner
- Emotional stability
- Ability to efficiently handle emergencies and remain calm in stressful situations
Typical Salary of a Charge Nurse
According to national salary data on Salary.com, charge nurses earned a median annual income of $71,597 as of November 2010, with the middle 50% of professionals in this role earning between $65,216 and $80,611. Charge nurses typically receive full benefits packages, including healthcare insurance, paid time off and 401(k) or pension contributions.
How to Prepare for a Career as a Charge Nurse
Charge nurses are generally registered nurses (RNs) with advanced education, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Preference may be given to RNs who hold or are pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. A BSN or MSN can provide you with the management and leadership skills you need to become a charge nurse in today’s dynamic healthcare environment.
According to the 2010-11 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for all RNs – including charge nurses – is expected to be excellent. Employment of RNs is predicted to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to the demand for healthcare services from an increasing aging population, technological advances that allow more health problems to be treated and a growing focus on proper preventative care.
Position Yourself for a Charge Nurse Role With a BSN or MSN
Ranked as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, Jacksonville University (JU) offers an online RN to BSN degree program for working nurses that allows them to fit coursework into a busy schedule. JU has also made its popular MSN degree programs in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration available online. Earning a nursing degree online allows you to balance work and personal commitments with a world-class education from an accredited university. An advanced degree from JU proves that you have what it takes to be a charge nurse – and the potential to take on further leadership roles within your organization.