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Hospital Charge Nurse: Job Description and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a hospital charge nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

A hospital charge nurse is responsible for operations and management of a hospital facility or department, and performs regular nursing assignments, such as patient care, while acting as a manager and completing administrative tasks. Hospital charge nurses are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs), and usually have many years of nursing experience. They make sure their department or unit runs smoothly. They often field questions and complaints from patients and families as well as serve as a source of information for the nurses who work with them.

Required EducationDiploma in practical nursing for an LPN; associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing for an RN
Other RequirementsCurrent LPN or RN license
Projected Job Growth 2012-2225% for LPNs; 19% for RNs*
Median Salary in September 2014 $42,881 (LPN), $63,293 (RN)**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Hospital Charge Nurse Job Description

Hospital charge nurses, who can be either an LPN or RN, are responsible for administrative and managerial duties in a specific department, ward or unit. They admit and discharge patients, supervise the nursing staff and maintain medicine and supply inventories. Charge nurses organize and maintain patient records, help develop hospital patient care programs and field complaints and questions from both patients and staff.

Administrative duties of hospital charge nurses are in addition to nursing tasks such as caring for patients and administering medicine. Charge nurses act as a resource for the nurses who work under them. Charge nurses may be required to conduct education or training programs for new nurses.

Hospital nurses must have a degree in nursing from an accredited school and an appropriate state license, which typically requires passing one of the NCLEX examinations. Registered Nurses take the NCLEX-RN and Licensed Practical Nurses take the NCLEX-PN.

Hospital Charge Nurse Career Information

Hospital charge nurses often begin their careers as LPNs. LPNs typically earned salaries ranging from $31,300 to $58,020 per year in 2013, according to a report from the BLS. The BLS predicts higher-than-average job growth for LPNs between 2012 and 2022 as a result of aging baby boomers and a high number of retiring LPNs over the decade. PayScale.com said the median salary for LPN charge nurses was about $43,000 in the fall of 2014.

According to PayScale.com, the median salary for charge nurses who were RNs was about $62,000 in September 2014. The BLS listed the annual salary range for most RNs in 2013 as between $45,630 and $96,320. Job growth and career prospects are expected to be similar to that of LPNs. Charge nurses with an associate degree and RN credential may enroll in an accelerated RN-to-BSN program to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to qualify for more advanced nursing administration positions.

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