If you like caring for people and also have good organizational and leadership skills, you may want to look into the possibility of a career as a charge nurse. It’s a job that demands not only clinical experience but managerial skills as well. This is a job for a dedicated, hardworking person who can inspire greatness in others. It’s a lot of responsibility that calls for a person with good planning skills and a vast knowledge of patient care. Most charge nurses are RN’s who may rotate this duty. While this job can be handled by an LPN in a long care situation, a BSN is highly recommended.
What Does a Charge Nurse Do?
The job description of a charge nurse would basically be coordinating and overseeing the functions of a department in a healthcare facility. The charge nurse is the one who assigns duties to the staff and reports to the nurse manager. A charge nurse prepares schedules and delegates nursing assignments. Keeping track of admissions and discharges is another responsibility as is taking inventory of and ordering medicines and supplies. This is a job that requires not only problem-solving skills but problem prevention skills. Checking the environment and equipment to ensure patient safety falls under the charge nurse’s many responsibilities. A charge nurse serves a multi-tasked role as a leader, a teacher and a self-starting organizer.
What Makes a Good Charge Nurse?
A charge nurse has to have excellent people skills because they will be working with not only ill and injured people but directing the nurses in charge of their care. This requires an ability to communicate ideas not only clearly and firmly but in a gently sympathetic way. Not only is verbal communication part of the job, but written communication skills are crucial for reporting on patient progress and staff performance. Good attention to detail is necessary in order to accurately assess a case and apply appropriate problem-solving skills to ameliorate the situation. This is a very stressful position, so a person looking to be a charge nurse must be the sort who can remain calm under pressure.
What Level of Education is Required to be a Charge Nurse?
Generally, the responsibility of a charge nurse is given to a registered nurse with advanced education such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Holding or pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing is a sure way to rise in the ranks. Either a BSN or an MSN can provide an intrepid nurse with skills in leadership and management that will be important in the role of regulating health care.
What is a Charge Nurse’s Salary?
The median annual income for an entry level charge nurse is typically around $82,813 depending on experience. The job usually comes with a full benefits package that includes paid time off, healthcare insurance, and 401(k) or pension contributions. The outlook is expected to be excellent due to a high demand for healthcare professionals. Being a charge nurse is one of the most difficult tasks in the healthcare industry, but certainly one of the most rewarding.