03.03 Charge Nurse

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Included In This Lesson



  1. Charge nurse
    1. Responsible for unit
      1. Over specific period of time
      2. Designated by
        1. Nurse manager/director
    2. May be permanent or rotated
    3. May also take patient assignment

Nursing Points


  1. Responsibilities
    1. Planning
      1. Identifies during shift
        1. Procedures/processes
      2. Assign patient care assignments
        1. Know skills/abilities of staff
      3. Ordering
        1. Supplies
    2. Provide support
      1. Patients
      2. Staff
        1. Help out!
    3. Facilitating and coordinating
      1. Admissions
      2. Discharges
      3. Communication
        1. Providers
        2. Other departments
    4. Evaluating
      1. Oversee care
        1. LPN
        2. PCA
        3. Ancillary staff
      2. Contribute to staff evaluations
      3. Unit productivity during shift


  1. Tips for new nurse as charge
    1. Have clear understanding of
      1. Charge nurse role
        1. What does it entail?
        2. Ask to shadow
        3. Is there orientation period?
        4. Ask for “go to” person
      2. Facility policy/procedures
    2. Prioritize
      1. Know what is urgent
      2. Know what can wait

Nursing Concepts

  1. Communication
  2. Clinical judgement
  3. Teamwork and collaboration
  4. Interpersonal relationships


Hey guys!  Today we are going to talk about the charge nurse role!  You might think as a new nurse this is a long way off for you but you might be surprised how one can slip into that role!  Maybe you have a great rapport with your coworkers and you have natural leadership ability….things like this may a nurse stand out and end up as a charge nurse!  Lets talk a little more about this.

So what exactly is a charge nurse?  So this role is responsible for a unit or group of staff members over a given shift or period of time and is under the direction of the nurse manager or director.  This role can be permanent or it can be rotated between other staff nurses. All units and facilities are different so it just depends on your institution how this is handled.  Guys I work in surgery and we have 2 permanent charge nurses but when one of them is off I am often asked to fill in for them. Also keep in mind that the charge nurse can sometimes take a patient assignment in addition to the other responsibilities that I am going to talk to you about in the upcoming slides.

The charge nurse has a number of responsibilities which can include things like planning, providing support, facilitating various things, coordinating many activities, and providing evaluations.  Let’s take a deeper look!

So planning as a charge nurse can include taking a look at the shift ahead and identifying any procedures that may need to occur and even ordering necessary supplies for that procedure.  Patient care assignments can be a big part of the charge nurse’s role whether this means on an ICU unit or in the surgery setting….aligning the needs of the patient with the skills of the nurse is very important. 

The charge nurse not only needs to provide support for their own patients, if they have an assignment but also for all of the patients and families on the unit.  The charge nurse is also the “go to” person for all of the staff members on the shift for questions and concerns. Support could simply mean helping out your co-workers, bathing a patient, calling a provider if necessary, or relieving a staff nurse so they can take a break.  These things can really help to gain the confidence and respect of the staff nurses which could really make a difference when you are in this role!

As a charge nurse you may also be responsible for facilitating and coordinating admissions and discharges and also any communication that there needs to be between providers, liaisons, facilities, and departments.  The charge nurses are awesome where I work because any issue that I have that is preventing me from taking care of my patient or doing my usual and customary tasks I can notify my charge nurse and they take care of it for me!  They really serve to make the work easier for staff nurses.

The charge nurse can also be in charge of overseeing care by staff members other than nurses like patient care assistants and ancillary staff.  When the time comes the nurse manager or director may ask the charge nurse to give some input to staff evaluations because of the experience you have working with them.  It is also important for the charge nurse to evaluate the shift that they are managing to really take a look at the productivity or the areas that need to be improved.

So here are some tips for the role of the charge nurse. You definitely want to have a clear understanding of this role before you accept this position. Maybe even ask the nurse manager or director if you can shadow another nurse who’s already acting in this role.   If you do accept this position as the charge nurse ask who your go to person would be. Obviously, for the staff members you are their go-to person but who is your person when you need some guidance. It’s super important as the charge nurse to know and understand your facility’s policies and procedures as in difficult situations its super important to follow policy and knowing this information could help in your decision making.  Finally, there is a lot to do in this role! Guys prioritizing is critical to keeping your cool! Know what needs to be done now and know what can wait!

Okay, guys let’s review. In the charge nurse role you’re responsible for a unit, it can be permanent or rotated, you may take a patient assignment.  Responsibilities can include planning procedures, facilitating communication, coordinating admissions and discharges, and evaluating and overseeing staff members and even participating in staff evaluation. Some tips include asking about the expectations of the role, ask to shadow a charge nurse, know your facility’s policies and procedures and know what is most important.

So what nursing concepts can we apply to the charge nurse? Obviously communication is critical between you and the staff members and other providers. Using clinical judgment is always important as a nurse especially a charge nurse. Using teamwork and collaboration to gain the respect and confidence of the staff nurses is super important also.

We love you guys! Go out and be your best self today! And as always, Happy Nursing!