Charge Nurse

What Is a Charge Nurse?

Charge nurses, also known as lead nurses or unit supervisors, are registered nurses in charge of a particular hospital unit or other kinds of healthcare facility. Charge nurses supervise teams of RNs, LPNs, and CNAs. They also act as an intermediary between staff nurses and administrators. These nurses perform the same tasks as general RNs; however, they're also expected to perform supervisory and managerial duties as well.

What Are Some Charge Nurse Duties?

Charge nurses have a diverse set of daily tasks. Common job duties include:

  • Act as a liaison between nurses, doctors, patients/families, and administrators
  • Oversee nursing staff and act as a mentor if needed
  • Plan work schedules
  • Assign patients to nursing staff
  • Organize patient care and delegate tasks
  • Conduct job interviews and regularly evaluate the performance of nursing staff
  • Act as a disciplinary force
  • Look into any patient complaints
  • Supervise patient admissions, transfers, and discharges
  • Aid nurses in handling difficult patients
  • Ensure a safe environment for both workers and patients
  • Keep track of medication, medical supplies, and other essential items
  • Regularly check equipment to ensure proper functionality
  • Sign off on paperwork such as staffing budgets and competency evaluations
  • Perform duties that a typical RN would perform

Where Do Charge Nurses work?

Charge nurses are typically employed in the following workplace settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Government healthcare settings
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Clinics
  • Private doctor's offices

How to Become a Charge Nurse

Charge nursing is a role for experienced RNs. The right combination of education, experience, and leadership skills will be necessary to secure a job with this title. RNs who aim to become charge nurses should hone their clinical skills, but also pay attention to effective communication, collaboration, and the assumption of any management duties as they work their way up the nursing ladder.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

The first step in becoming a charge nurse is to enroll in and successfully complete an RN or BSN program. The next step is to gain licensure as a registered nurse. The most important aspect to becoming a charge nurse is the experience. RNs should have at least 3 to 5 years of experience in various departmental clinical settings (i.e. psychiatric, emergency, cardiology, etc.).

Do Charge Nurses Need an RN Degree?

In the vast majority of healthcare settings, charge nurses are RNs. However, in long-term care settings charge nurses may be LPNs. Those who wish to have the widest variety of employment opportunities should earn an RN degree, such as an ADN or BSN. These degrees will better prepare individuals for the role and duties of a charge nurse.

Step 2: Required Charge Nurse Certification / Credentials

Certifications that are certainly a plus, but aren't necessarily required, for the charge nurse including ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Course), and ENPC (Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course), for example:

Charge Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

Those who possess the required skills of a charge nurse are in high demand in today's job market. Charge nurses are generally needed by a wide variety of employers in different healthcare settings. Because charge nurses are generally experienced RNs with a mixture of clinical, managerial, and organizational skills, their salaries will typically be higher than that of regular registered nurses as their skill set is considered much more valuable.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - strong leadership skills, organizational skills, excellent communication skills, strong attention to detail, strong work ethic, ability to critically think, mentorship, integrity, emotional intelligence, and professionalism
  • Job Outlook - According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the job outlook for Charge Nurses is anticipated to increase by 17% between 2014 and 2024. The top states for employment as a Charge Nurse are California, Texas, New York, Ohio and Illinois

What Is the Average Salary of a Charge Nurse?

The median annual salary of a charge nurse is $68,911, according to PayScale. However, charge nurses can go by different titles which may affect salary. For example, Nursing Directors have a median annual salary of $90,712 whereas Chief Nursing Officers have a median annual salary of $123,702.

According to PayScale, the average charge nurse who is an RN makes about $31.64 per hour.

As of today, there isn't a single labor union that represents nurses in the United States. However, charge nurses will enjoy the benefits of having secure employment. Full-time charge nurses are typically given comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance by their employers. Malpractice insurance is also usually provided. In some cases, employers will also provide long-term care insurance and life insurance. The cost of insurance plans will inevitably vary from employer to employer.

Like registered nurses, charge nurses often will work three twelve-hour shifts per week. Others will work five eight-hour shifts per week. It really depends on the specific kind of healthcare setting they're working in.

How Much Do Charge Nurses Make per Year?

  • $50,000 – $97,000 annually

How Much Do Charge Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $31.64 average hourly wage

Charge Nurse Resources