What is a charge nurse??


Ok, aside from the obvious (being in charge) whats it take to be a charge nurse, education, rate of pay, etc....In nursing I and a lot of what im reading states, report to the charge nurse or dr.....

Also, what (besides education) is the difference between an LPN & RN? As far as floor duties & what they can and cant do.

Specializes in med-surg. Has 8 years experience.

In our hospital, the charge nurse earns a whole whoppin' 2 dollars an hr more for the time in charge; she more than earns it; I wouldn't do it for TEN!


Guest neetnik461

0 Posts

Here's a succinct definition of charge nurse (referred to as resource nurse) taken from the "notes on icu nursing" webpage.

3-1- Who are the resource nurses?

Shift-to-shift leadership is provided by the resource nurses, who carry no patients, for the very good reason that the whole ICU is their assignment.. They make out staff assignments, and arrange for admissions and discharges with the supervisors and the house officers. They are also there to be your "resource" for any situation or question you may have. Use this resource any time you think you need to. Always run any question you may have by your resource nurse. At the same time, try to be merciful, and remember that they are keeping a lot of balls in the air at once!

Unlike the ideal definition of the charge/resource nurse above, in the (ICU) unit I work every nurse is trained to be the charge nurse by the time they have been working for 1 year. Every nurse on staff is required to act as charge nurse whenever they might be assigned to this task (which is purely the decision of the off going charge nurse). There is no pay incentive or increase for working charge nurse duties. The biggest point of contention on our floor is the majority of the time the charge nurse also has a patient assignment. Sometimes the charge nurse may even have to take one or two new admissions. So, as much as the charge wants to be the resource person they just humanly cannot . . .its all the poor nurse can do to manage an assignment and juggle the balls of staffing, admissions and discharges. It's vary rare (

While we are on the topic, I wonder how many of you work on a floor that requires the charge nurse to take an assignment (at least most of the time)? This is by far the biggest complaint in the ICU unit I work in.

Dorito, ASN, RN

311 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, , Home health, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Our Charge nurses don't take any patients but they do relieve some of our ICU staff for lunch. Our Charge gets a small differential (probably less than $1) but I agree- she earns it! I can't imagine having a team or assignment and being responsible to be Charge nurse as well.


51 Posts

In the nursing home I work at as a charge nurse, we are responsible for all of the residents, taking care of any issues that may come up. I take the heat for things that get missed, or screwed up. I also answer the phone, work on staffing issues, help out the case manager and DON when needed. I also listen to resident complaints, deal with families, have other departments telling me how and what I should be doing the things that need to be done. I also have a few treatments, feedings and insulins to do while I'm there.

So, depending on which type of facility you are looking at, hospital and LTC are very different for the charge nurse and the duties included.


1,062 Posts

Specializes in ICU, psych, corrections. Has 8 years experience.

Recently, I discovered something that makes me nervous. I work in an ICU and noticed they were "training" someone for nocs charge. Why am I nervouse? Because he graduated the same time I did (May 2005) and has less experience in the unit that I do. I wouldn't want to be charge in an ICU for several, possibly 5 years. The way I see it, your charge nurse should be able to help you with any questions you have regarding the care of your patient. Most of the charge nurse's in our unit have a minimum of 3-5 years experience and many of them have over 10 years. I have high regard for them and know that I can approach them with just about anything. This particular person would not be able to help me with some of the problems I've had in the past and it makes me nervous. Funny thing is, he's quite smitten with the idea they have made him charge and I know if it were me, I would run like hell the other way until I had more experience. I know when I'm in too deep....LOL! Charge is something I have NO urge to take on this early in my career. No thank you, not for any amount of money.

Melanie = )

Indy, LPN, LVN

1,444 Posts

Specializes in ICU, telemetry, LTAC. Has 5 years experience.

I have to admit, there's a nurse I work with who trained to charge at the same time I did, and we graduated together. I can't stand for him to be in charge over me. He dumps heavy assignments, he doesn't help, if you need actual help you may as well talk to the wall.

Mind you, occasionally he may do a small task for you, if it is clear that you can not do it. But when the next shift comes in and it's time for the charge-to-charge talk, make sure all things are updated, the last two times he was in charge over me, I had to update next shift 'cause he had already left.

With night shift charge being expected to take a patient load, there's many ways to manage that. One, you can split up the heavy patients so the load is about even and hope nothing goes wrong. Two, you can take the most problematic patient on the unit, and help your nurses as best you can, knowing that just taking that patient is a big help. Three, you can take a light load but don't expect to sit on your a$$, you have to be in there helping with actual nursing tasks if you go that route. You can check blood sugars, pass meds if needed, hang IV's, make phone calls, bed change occasionally, help scoot/lift/turn patients, etc.

My style is normally either one or two. VERY rarely is it #3, but I won't rule that out entirely. I always think twice before taking a lighter load. And occasionally when I charge over those that are also charge nurses, I make sure I don't piss 'em off, because what goes around comes around. The particular person I started off talking about, must not have that mentality.

Specializes in ED, ICU, Heme/Onc.

Oftentimes, he or she is also precepting a new nurse OR has the sickest patient on the floor. We are an ICU - some intubated, some not.

There is no differential for "charge", we all switch off at the discretion of the nurse manager. My stomach sinks every time I see the "C" next to my name...



27 Posts

In my present job and my last job also, I had no choice but to be in charge. We (the RNs ) were rotated around, all of us being in charge on different shifts. We get an extra $19 per shift for being the RN in charge.


37 Posts

Unless it is our ANM that is in charge our charge nurses take a full assignment. Nurses can be oriented to charge after they have been a nurse for a year and there is $1 differential. I work on a med/surg floor, the charge nurse makes the assignment for the next shift, at night we check the defib/crash cart, deal with any pt/family issues, deal with staffing/admitting and any other crises that come along.

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