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Being a Charge Nurse

What does one need to do in order to become a charge nurse? Well, though most charge nurses are registered nurses (RNs), some medical facilities or employers, like nursing homes for example, will promote licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to the position of charge nurse to manage and oversee nursing aides and other LPNs with less experience or expertise. Usually, in order to obtain this position, one must have completed LPN school, have an associate’s degree and five years of experience in the field, so that the employer can be sure that the newly appointed charge nurse is well practiced in standard concepts and procedures in the clinical world. This experience should give the charge nurse room to exercise judgment responsibly as well as an ability to take action quickly if anything were to go wrong while on shift. Usually the charge nurse will perform their varied tasks under the supervision of an manager of some kind. All this responsibility yields a nice check. According to www1.salary.com, the typical charge nurse averages about $71,143 per year.

That said, what does a charge nurse do? Basically, the charge nurse oversees the other nurses on duty and makes sure that all the patients are receiving sufficient care. It is the charge nurse’s job to make sure everything runs according to protocol. A charge nurse may be responsible for staffing, seeing to it that a sufficient amount of nurses are on staff to care for the amount of patients currently being held. They usually dictate the patient assignments and organize the staff, explaining to the other nurses their various tasks and activities for the shift. Also, the charge nurse must monitor the other LPNs as they do their work and fix missteps or problems that occur. If a newer or less experienced LPN is not familiar with a certain procedure, it is the charge nurse’s job to instruct him/her. In the event that another area of the hospital wishes to transfer a patient, it would be the charge nurse that they talk to in order to arrange such transfer. In short, a charge nurse is an overseer, the one who makes everything run smoothly.

Since it is the charge nurse’s job to make sure things run smoothly, the charge nurse is also the person who is contacted in case anything doesn’t. The charge nurse is the person that everyone calls on when something goes wrong. Most charge nurses are usually assigned to oversee a unit for a single shift at a time. If the charge nurse is a permanent member of a management team, they may be called shift supervisors (or in some countries like the United Kingdom, a “nursing sister”). If an LPN needs help with a patient, it would be the charge nurse that he/she calls upon. If a patient believes he/she has been mistreated by an LPN or a nursing aide, they would complain to the charge nurse. It is the charge nurse’s job to run around keeping everyone happy, and making sure everyone is working to the best of their ability. The most important thing a charge nurse does is mentor the nursing aides and others who have completed the requirements to be an LPN by providing them with support and guidance. The charge nurse must set the example for the rest of the nursing staff.

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