Hospital charge nurses are responsible for the management and operations of a department or hospital unit. They perform basic nursing assignments and act as a manager by completing various administrative tasks. Hospital charge nurses begin their careers as Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses and obtain this position after several years of experience.
In addition to nursing tasks such as taking care of patients and administering medicine, charge nurses are also responsible for a number of administrative and managerial duties in a particular ward, unit or department. Other tasks of hospital charge nurses include admitting and discharging patients, overseeing nursing staff; maintaining medicine and supplying inventories; organizing and maintaining patient records, assisting in the development of hospital patient care programs; fielding complaints and answering questions from both patients and staff, among others. As part of their administrative tasks, charge nurses plan the nurse roster; supervise and guide other nurses in their work; encourage a culture that promotes staff productivity; report patient’s condition to doctors; prepare the nursing budget; record performances of department nurses and ensure that the unit runs efficiently and as per standards and regulations.
Education and Training Requirements
Charge nurses must first become registered nurses by completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program from an accredited school and pass the national licensing exam. To practice, registered nurses must then pass the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN for Licensed Practical Nurses. A Master’s degree in Nursing is often preferred and a minimum of 3-5 years experience is generally required.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
As a charge nurse, it is essential to have good interpersonal and communication skills in order to give direction and support to other nurses. Patience and a pleasing manner are also important as a charge nurse is often called upon to answer questions from patients or their anxious families. More importantly, one must have organizational skills which are required in their managerial tasks such as planning schedules and managing inventories.
Charge Nurses work in well-lighted, fully equipped, comfortable hospitals and other health care facilities. Their work has extreme physical demands, so nurses may spend plenty of working hours walking, standing, bending and stretching. Since require round-a-clock care, charge nurses may work long hours, even at nights, weekends, or during holidays. Some charge nurses may also be assigned to an on-call basis, usually with short notice.
LPN Charge Nurses typically earn salaries ranging from $39,000 to $51,000, while RN hospital charge nurses earn salaries between $54,500 and $76,400. The industry average is considered to be $25 to $35 per hour, with overtime rates varying between $35 and $50. Annual salaries are in the range of $50,000 to $75,000. They are usually offered paid vacation and paid sick leaves as well as benefits which include disability, life insurance, education reimbursement or flex-time.