The profession of charge nursing has a lot of leadership roles. Therefore, it can be perfect for nursing candidates who are looking for something more than just the clinical experiences. While they also offer direct care to the patients, charge nurses have a lot of managerial responsibilities, mainly those concerning the management of support staff and nurses during a given shift. Starting off as charge nurses can also pave the way for higher career opportunities in nursing.
Charge Nurse Job Description
The main charge nurse role is to oversee the operation of a particular department that has been assigned to them during their working shifts. The regular duties include preparing daily schedules for the staff, assigning tasks to the nurses, looking over the admission and discharge of the patients, monitoring the existing stack of medicinal supplies and ordering for new ones when required.
It is their prime responsibility to see if their assigned unit has been functioning in an efficient manner. It is their duty to promote coordination between the different working members and monitor every activity taking place under the unit. They assess the nursing staff working with them and offer guidance whenever required. They are required to report to either the manager or the supervisor.
They are usually assigned small groups of staff, most often the paraprofessionals and are required to perform repetitive tasks on a daily basis. They are expected to promote the efficiency of their respective units and makes contributions in the development of different procedures adopted during the care and treatment of patients. Depending on the norms of the facility that they are working under, the charge nurses may also be required to get involved in the daily patient care services. However, the number of patients treated by the charge nurses is limited. They only tend to the patients requiring special care.
Managerial Role Of The Charge Nurse
Charge nurses are trained with a high emphasis on leadership and management skills and establishing effective communication skills. They are usually assigned specific departments or specialty units in big hospitals with multiple specialties. Each shift has its own charge nurse who looks over the activities such as the flow of the patients and assignment of duties to the staff. The charge nurses have great responsibilities weighing them and are therefore required to stay highly efficient at all times. They should also remain highly flexible in order to adapt quickly to any emergencies.
They supervise the nurses regarding the specific care to be administered to the patients. They make sure that all the processes and procedures that are being followed in their respective units are under the set protocols. They may also work together with other nurses in order to decide an optimal care plan, specific to the needs of the individual patients. Apart from that, they may also organize seminars for the purpose of educating the staff and keeping them updated about the latest developments in their respective fields of work. They develop training courses and see if they are being implemented in an effective manner.
They evaluate the staff on a regular basis, document their performances and offer to counsel if the services are not satisfactory. They also have frequent meetings with the upper-level staff in order to discuss any new issues regarding the staff or administration and decide the most appropriate solution.
The administrative roles of a charge nurse include preparing schedules, monitoring the staff to see if they are sticking to the established protocols while offering their services and making sure that there are adequate medicines and supplies available at all times. Some facilities may also involve the charge nurses in the planning and management of the budget, mainly the salaries of the working staff.
The types of patients looked after the charge nurses may vary depending on their respective specialties, shifts and the type of facility they are working for. However, they monitor a limited number of patients, keep a watch over the vital signs and report the progress and special circumstances to the concerned doctor.
Charge nurses may work in a variety of healthcare settings. This includes nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, clinics, and hospitals. Given below is a general outline of the charge nurse duties.
- Manage the admissions and the discharges taking place in their department
- Preparing the roster for the nurses
- Supervise and guide the nurses
- Working towards establishing a well-coordinated and highly efficient staff unit
- Monitoring the patients, keeping a track of the medicine administrations and provide reports to the doctor
- Maintaining accurate and updated patient records on a daily basis
- Preparing a budget for their unit
- Take charge of the maintenance of equipment and inventories used in their department and make orders for repair and replacement whenever required
- Keep a record of the performance of the unit as a whole
- Making sure that the quality of patient care offered in their units is in accordance with the established standards
- Make prompt reporting to the physicians in case of emergencies
- Address the complaints made by the patients
- Make daily rounds, overseeing the distribution and administration of medications
- Offer emotional support to the patients
- Educate the patients regarding their medical conditions and the appropriate treatment and maintenance
- Offer assistance to the supervisor regarding various affairs of the department
- Offer assistance with the recruiting of new staff members
- Offer orientation and training to the newly recruited staff
Charge Nurse Education Requirement
Hospitals, nursing homes, and similar other facilities mainly hire charge nurses with at least a degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This is the minimum Qualification required To become a charge nurse. They should hold the certification of a registered nurse by clearing the NCLEX-RN. Nurses who have higher credentials such as an MSN are more likely to have better career opportunities. They have a high amount of knowledge and are more favored by the employers.
The practical nursing courses include both classroom education as well as clinical training. Some programs also offer externship or internship opportunities to the candidates alongside the regular coursework. The topics covered during classroom lectures include general anatomy, pharmacology, and the nursing fundamentals. The candidates may also join clinical care management courses for a better understanding of the managerial role as a charge nurse.
There is also a credential specific to the charge nurses. As for the RNs who are applying for the position, they should at least have 5 years of work experience. They should also have certifications in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support, and CPR certification.
Charge Nurse Skills
The charge nurses should be skilled at maintaining a perfect balance between the hands-on clinical care and the administrative duties. Charge nurse leadership skill is an important trait that the nurses working in this field have. They should work on it so as to effectively communicate with the nursing staff and give directions regarding patient care and other procedures involved in the treatment. They should have great organizational skills and maintain accurate records regarding the performance of different nursing staff working under their unit. They should be able to make correct staff evaluations so as to develop educational programs in an according to fashion.
Effective communication and interpersonal skills are indispensable to the charge nurses in order to emerge successful in their area of work. This is mainly because they daily work requires them to interact with several different people, both the staff and patients. Good interpersonal skills allow them to handle people of different personalities with ease. They should also have the wit and presence of mind in order to answer the queries put forward by the staff and the patients with ease. These skills can also be sharpened by experience. At the same time, they are also required to have strong writing skills in order to prepare accurate reports concerning the patient and the staff.
Other Traits That Are Critical to Working Efficiently as a Charge Nurse Include
- Detailed attention and good analytical skills
- Make quick and accurate patient assessments
- Maintain a caring and compassionate attitude
- Ability to maintain an emotional stability
- Ability to handle the emergencies with efficiency
- Maintain a calm disposure even during the stressful situations
- Staying patient during the interactions with patient and staff
- Good organizational skills to efficiently handle the inventories
- Addressing the queries of the patients’ families to satisfaction
Charge Nurse Salary
The charge nurses working in the United States have an average annual salary of $67,932. This was the figure released as of Jan 27, 2018. Furthermore, the salary is likely to vary between $50,677 and $92,149 depending on factors such as location, employer, education, experience and so forth. 1 The data for this survey was collected by a team of certified compensation professionals.
The survey was carried out in more than a thousand industries that had employment for employees bearing the title of charge nurses, all across the United States. Since the survey did not take into account factors such as short-term economic fluctuation, availability of the nurses, local and state legislation and so on, the figures may vary slightly as compared to those calculated by other surveys.
This is the basic salary for the charge nurses. Apart from this, they also receive a number of other benefits including healthcare insurance, pension contributions and paid time offs. They receive a yearly bonus of about $6,000 and up to $2,400 as a profit share. 2 All these compensations can make a huge difference to the actual earnings of the nurses on a yearly basis. It was also revealed that almost 89 percent of the total employees working as charge nurses were women. As revealed from the questionnaires, the nurses working in this field have a high level of job satisfaction.
How Much Do Charge Nurses Make Per Hour?
As of Jan 27, 2018, the average Hourly pay for the charge nurses was $30.95. The hourly wages can vary between $24.18 and $41.90. 3 These are the figures released from the same survey that calculated the average annual salary for the charge nurses. The data for the survey was obtained from both the employers as well as the employees.
Highest paying states include California, Texas, and Colorado.
Highest Charge Nurse Salary Paying States:
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Salary By Employer
Like in every other field, the choice of the employer can have a huge impact on the total earnings of the charge nurses. HCA Inc, DaVita Inc, Golden Living Centers, Fresenius and Fresenius Medical Care Holdings Inc. are some of the top employers for the charge nurses. It is seen that the highest salaries are received by the nurses working at Providence Hospital. Among the highest paid categories, the average annual earnings stand at about $85,887. 4 Other employer offering huge sums to the charge nurses is WellStar Health System with average salaries of $72,254.
The lowest paying employers include Intermountian Health Care who offer their charge nurses an average salary of only $58,983. 5 Although some workers also have the scope of earning as high as $74,000, this only happens in the larger cities and the number of employees lying in the highly paid category is limited. Employers with lightweight salaries for the charge nurses include Kindred Healthcare, and Genesis HealthCare with average salaries of $61,127 and $58,685 respectively.
Salary By Career Choice For The Charge Nurses
Although this not common, a few charge nurses may also advance their careers and transition into the Family Nurse Practitioners. In this case, they are likely to enjoy a hike in the salary. Currently, the average annual salary for the Family Nurse Practitioners is expected to be $82,000. It is rather common for the charge nurses to step into the roles of Nursing Managers or Clinical Nurse Managers, in which case, they are likely to receive about $7,000 higher than their previous salaries.
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