Charge Nurse: Role, Salary, Duties & Job Description

Here's a way to use your nursing experience along with your managerial skills! Read further to discover the education, licensing, duties and salary to see if this role as a charge nurse could be right for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

A charge nurse, sometimes referred to as a unit supervisor or lead nurse, manages a team of nurses to ensure efficient functioning of a department within a healthcare setting. The charge nurse, who is often a registered nurse (RN), must be able to provide clinical expertise to less experienced staff, carry out some day to day tasks expected of a nurse and supervise staff to ensure things run smoothly during their shift. Learn more details in the following table.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; associate's degree or diploma
Education field of study Nursing
Licensure and Certification License required for registered nurses
Key Responsibilities Delegate tasks, educate nursing staff, monitor patient care, supervise admission and discharge procedure of patients
Key Skills Communication, anticipation, organization, leadership
Median Salary (2017) $70,000 (all registered nurses)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (all registered nurses) *

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What is a Charge Nurse?

A charge nurse is a managerial position within the nursing profession, where aside from providing patient care, the RN must also supervise a group of nurses. Charge nurses at times act as a liaison between registered nurses, senior managers and hospital administration. A charge nurse is a good communicator, quick thinker, well-organized, and a strong leader.

What Does a Charge Nurse Do?

Charge nurses have a number of responsibilities, as well as sometimes carrying out the normal duties required of a registered nurse. A charge nurse must delegate tasks to nursing staff, educate staff on expected patient care, plan nurse and support staff rosters, investigate complaints, order required supplies, maintain compliance with key policies and carry out disciplinary action of nursing staff when required.

Charge nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices and clinics. This role can lead to progression to more senior positions such as nursing director, advanced practice registered nurse and chief nursing officer.

How do I Become a Charge Nurse?

Charge nurses are often registered nurses and typically have a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing or a diploma. Nursing studies normally comprise of biology, anatomy and physiology alongside clinical experience during training. A registered nurse will usually have several years of experience before progressing to a charge nurse and may need to gain specific certifications. Applicants who are working toward a master's degree in nursing may have an advantage.

What are the Salary and Career Outlook?

According to the BLS, registered nurses in general made a median salary of $70,000 in 2017. The low end for a registered nurse's salary at that time was $48,690 or below, and the high end was $104,100 and above. Registered nurses working for the government earned the most, while those working in educational services earned the least, said the BLS. As a comparison, Payscale.com listed a median salary of $68,633 specifically for RN charge nurses in 2019.

According to the BLS, the number of nurses in employment is expected to grow by 15% between 2016-2026, likely due to an aging population, financial pressure to discharge patients into other care facilities, and an increase in chronic illness, making many opportunities for charge nurses.

What Certification and Licensure is Required?

Registered nurses must acquire a license to practice nursing in all states. The nursing program should be accredited by the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Certification in courses such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support (BLS) are usually voluntary but may be required by some employers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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