A Charge Nurse Role: The Ultimate Guide.

A charge nurse role includes front line nurse supervisor, resource nurse, bed manager, peer reviewer, patient advocate, other charge nurse duties, and staff scheduler. Thus, the tasks involve successful management of the charge nurse’s responsibilities. Besides, a charge nurse is a leader on the floor and should possess excellent organizational skills.

charge nurse role
What Is A Charge Nurse?

A charge nurse is a nurse with advanced clinical experience who is able to supervise the nursing staff and be a resource to the nursing staff. Most people refer to a charge nurse as a nurse in charge or head nurse.

How To Become A Charge Nurse?

You need substantial clinical expertise and have exceptional leadership and organizational skills. You have to be able to resolve staff conflict and manage the patients’ complaints.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Charge Nurse?

Most organizations require one to two years of clinical experience to become a charge nurse.

Frontline Supervisor And Leader

One of the charge nurse’s roles is to act as the first-line supervisor. Thus, you should think about yourself as the immediate nurse supervisor that the nursing staff will follow. Also, external stakeholders, like doctors and other disciplines, will contact you whenever there is an issue.

As a frontline supervisor, it is an expectation to demonstrate outstanding leadership. Therefore, you have to be a leader and communicate effectively while supervising the nursing staff. Another charge nurse’s role is to anticipate the most significant threats on the unit during your shift. For instance, staffing issues, patient influx, supply shortage, and more.

At the beginning of the day, you have to identify the major concerns during your shift and develop strategies to prevent patient harm and adverse events. Some additional charge nurse responsibilities include guiding the nursing staff, remaining professional at all times, talking to the nursing staff, and resolving conflict while remaining neutral.

Charge Nurse Role As A Resource Nurse

First, a resource nurse is often a critical care nurse with advanced nursing skills. Thus, some hospitals or health care facilities assign that nurse to monitor the patients’ status continuously. Furthermore, some nurses are responsible for helping nurses on their unit while also responding to codes like the code blue and Rapid Respond Team-RRT.

As a resource nurse, you have to be reliable and knowledgeable. Besides, you need some clinical expertise in comparison with the rest of the nursing staff. The junior staff will often seek your guidance when they are not familiar with a specific clinical task or process. The nurses truly rely on your clinical skills for recommendations. Check out CPR, ACLS and PALS certification by accessing this affiliate link.

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The Providers will also remain in contact with you before they transfer their patients because they want to know if the nursing staff will provide Quality of Care to their patients. It is crucial for Providers to feel that their patients will be safe in the ward.

Professional Reputation As A Resource Nurse

Sometimes the doctors might also want to know if they can prescribe certain medications for administration on your floor. The charge nurse’s duties include familiarity with your unit’s clinical operations and skillsets. However, you do not need to know everything because nobody does. Lastly, you should be able to perform your unit’s specific nursing skills independently.

Also, some nursing units are not able to manage patients with chest tubes. If a Cardiothoracic surgeon calls you to find out if a patient can come on the unit, you should guide the surgeon. Besides, you will build your professional reputation as a resource nurse.

You have to know the level of care requirements because that is part of a charge nurse responsibilities. Moreover, you need to know the type of clinical skills necessary for a specific patient population. Therefore, the nursing staff and the multi-disciplinary teams will seek your guidance.

Bed Manager As Charge Nurse Duties

As the bed manager, you will stay in direct contact with the hospital nursing supervisor, or some hospitals call them Bed Admission Coordinator. That role involves managing the patient’s movement within your department while coordinating bed placement with the Nurse Supervisor for external patients.

You have to know what the patient census is as part of the charge nurse role. Besides, you must monitor all pending patient discharges so that you can manage new patient admission safely. I understand that most electronic records can display patient discharge alerts. However, you have to communicate patient movement with your staff throughout the day.

I know some clinical systems will alert you when there is a discharge order, but sometimes the Providers forget to enter the order. Therefore, you rely on the nursing staff to inform you of the plan. You will also monitor all new and pending patient admissions. Thus, you will ensure that each patient meets your floor’s criteria, and the patient does have a room.

It is also essential to know if the nursing staff have enough supplies on hand. Even though you are not responsible for distributing medical supplies, you have to prevent delays in care due to a lack of supplies. Charge nurse responsibilities include monitoring bed operations and nursing care.

charge nurse role

Patient Advocate

The charge nurse’s role includes patient advocate because you have to make sure the nursing staff provides safe care to every patient. Furthermore, you are responsible for conducting walking rounds like safety rounds and quickly observe each patient. You might have to check the high-risk patients during your shift. For example, you should monitor high fall risk and elopement risk closely.

If a patient on a Medical-Surgical floor has a tracheostomy, you need to make sure that the nursing staff has additional supplies. Thus, you should ask if Respiratory Therapy sees the patient during your shift. Therefore, you have to participate in discharge planning rounds to obtain critical information about the treatment plan for the patient and the deposition plan.

Peer Reviewer As Charge Nurse Duties

As a peer reviewer, you are responsible for monitoring the nursing Clinical Documentation to validate the nurses ‘ compliance with the standard of care. You have to review the documentation following your unit policy or the hospital’s protocol. You should also observe the compliance bundles. For instance, you can monitor late medication reports, indications for restraints and invasive lines, falls and pressure injury prevention bundles, clinical documentation requirements, and more.

When you identify deviations in clinical documentation or failure to follow the established protocol, you should inform the nurses of the gaps immediately to promote Rapid Improvement. Sometimes the unit manager might want you to keep the data to share with the nursing staff during staff meetings. Also, you can complete Compliance Audit as charge nurse responsibilities. Lastly, you should follow your Nurse Supervisor’s guidance.

charge nurse role

Staffing Coordinator And Scheduler

One of the most challenging roles as a charge nurse has to be the nursing assignment. Besides, staffing management is one of the most complex tasks to complete during the shift. Thus, you have to know the required staffing for your unit.

Some hospitals call the process Workload Managementwhile others call it a staffing grid. The charge nurse’s role is to complete the nursing assignment efficiently. Thus, the charge nurse has to make sure that there is enough staffing based on the census. The charge nurse’s duties include staffing management and completing the nursing assignments for the oncoming shift.

One of my priorities when I make the nursing assignment is to inform the nurse supervisor or my immediate supervisor about the staffing shortage. Therefore, you have to tell them early enough to assign other nurses to float to your unit. Besides, you do not want a nursing ward with full capacity without enough staff.

You should expect at least one staff member to be unhappy with the assignment. I highly encourage you to use your leadership skills to address the concerns. Besides, the nursing staff has the right to complain. You need to direct them to the supervisor if you are unable to resolve the conflict. Lastly, you should strive to remain neutral and objective by mixing the patient assignment per acuity level.

Clerical Coordinator

As a charge nurse, you will answer the phone on many occasions. Besides, you will often check Clinical Alarms and troubleshoot false alerts. The charge nurse station is usually near most central monitors. Furthermore, I remember that I used to verify if all the alarms worked adequately.

In summary, you are managing the floor while tracking patient movement. The nursing station is often distractive because of the constant influx of patients. For example, the charge nurse is usually on the phone while trying to manage other clinical issues. Lastly, the transportation team often seeks additional information from the charge nurse before taking a patient off the ward.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the charge nurse role includes front line nurse supervisor, resource nurse, bed manager, peer reviewer, patient advocate, other charge nurse duties, and staffing scheduler. Charge nurses are essential team members and are responsible for managing multiple tasks or projects while promoting quality nursing care.

Lastly, they are one of the most valuable pillars of their unit. Charge nurses are the link between the department and the multidisciplinary team members. Have you learned something about a charge nurse role? Leave a comment, share, like, and subscribe to receive a free ” Manifestations/ Self-Care workbook ” from Nurse Sophie.

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