Charge nurses are nurse leaders of a work area or department. They help in ensuring operations run smoothly throughout the shift. They differ from nurse managers in that they are usually involved in more direct patient care and staff oversight, and act as a liaison between staff nurses and upper management.

Many healthcare facilities offer charge nurse positions to nurses who have clinical experience, as well as experience in leadership (i.e., nurses who have acted in a relief charge nurse role or have demonstrated leadership abilities as a staff nurse). In some cases, a BSN is preferred, but this is dependent on the facility.

Charge nurses can work in a variety of settings such as:

  • Hospitals
    • Nursing units
    • Emergency department
    • Intensive care
    • Labor & Delivery
    • Surgery services
  • Medical Offices
  • Ambulatory specialty departments
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Home Health

A quick search for "charge nurse" through our RN job board yielded thousands of results- from full time to part time and on-call, the opportunities were plentiful. These postings usually do not include internally-posted positions within a facility. It's important for nurses to ask around to find which organizations offer charge nurse positions, as some have gone toward nurse manager-led departments as opposed to charge nurse-led departments.

Regardless, nurses have clinical advancement opportunities readily available in many health care settings, including the charge nurse role. Nurses who are flexible, organized, and adapt well to change would make excellent charge nurses.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
Latest posts by Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN (see all)
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