What does a great charge nurse need?

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    Ok we don't have a "charge nurse" we have shift leaders who take full pts. assignments. I was told by my manager(my previous position) to write a proposal. Just curious what makes a great charge nurse and does anyone have a job description? Thanks
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    The role of "charge nurse" and the duties and tasks required vary on the unit and the hospital. I used to work on a cardiac floor and more often than not I was the night shift charge. The night shift charge still had to take a full load of patients and our ratios were 1:4. If we were short, they would be 1:5 and usually the charge would still take 1:4 in that situation but I have taken extra patients to help out my fellow nurses. I was responsible for making the assignments for the shift as well as assigning beds if we were getting an admission or a transfer. I had to check the crash carts. I served as a resource person for other nurses on the unit. Some nights I felt like all I was doing was putting out little "fires" here and there...trying to make patients happy, listening to their complaints if they had any, etc.

    That was pretty much it, lol. Our dayshift charge on the weekdays was our manager, and they never had a patient assignment unless the unit was desperate and the staffing was poor. The dayshift charge (without an assignment) would round with the doctors in the AM. On nights the doctors typically do not round unless it's early in the evening or first thing in the AM at around 0600 but they never required the nightshift charge nurse to be with them or even the primary RN. I would always try to be in the room when the doc was there so I can listen to what they have to say and to also be the patient's advocate.

    This wasn't required of me, but if we were slammed with admissions I would try to do all of the admission data for my fellow nurses. Some nurses would end up having "surprise discharges" or transfers and would end up getting back-to-back admissions, so I would help them in that process. I know what it's like to be dumped on and to have back-to-back admissions, so I try to be as fair as possible to my team.

    As for an actual job description, why not do a Google search? Search other hospitals (not necessarily in your area) for charge nurse openings and see what they post as their job description and use that as a base for what you're trying to formulate.
    simama likes this.
  5. 0
    Different for every hospital that I have worked at.
    I'm a full time charge nurse on my floor. I don't take patients, but I co-sign, put out fires, do bed flow and admits. My main job is education and discharges though. If nobody is going home, I do some audit stuff, and help on the floor. I'm responsible for staffing, fielding sick calls, checking crash carts, answering codes and everything else in-between.
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    It generally depends on the employer. I'm the charge nurse and generally assign new admits to a room, do their admission assessment, and assign a staff member to them. However, if I'm away from the desk I couldn't care less if whoever happens to answer the phone makes the room assignment. Also, if I assign a new patient to a LPN I create their careplan and get the ball rolling on the education materials. If it's a patient that won't have any needs other than pumping in some fluids and going to sleep I don't mind taking that patient on. If the patient will have other stuff to be done I'll defer them to another employee on shift because I take as many or nearly as many patients as other employees on the unit. I also do or make sure the frige, crash cart, glucometers, and other items are checked. It's a smaller hospital, and I bounce to other departments for codes and other crises.


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