June 24, 2010 | | Comments 1
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Charge Nurse Exemplary Roles: The Icing on the Cake

Charge nurse is a term that has been around since the early 1980s and has often been used interchangeably with other terms, such as unit supervisor or shift supervisor. Charge nurses are accountable to the organization, direct care providers, and patients. They must be sufficiently trained in regulatory requirements such as The Joint Commission’s standards, and they must be adequately familiar with and trained in organizational policies and procedures so that the delivery and coordination of patient care meet organizational expectations.

Aside from the traditional roles charge nurses hold, here is a list of a few of the exemplary roles they also take on:

Educators: The educator role is more than just acting as a resource for the patient care staff. Charge nurses who develop skills as an educator can help bring the patient care team to another level by assisting with staff orientation, equipment, and procedural in-services, updating team members about new clinical practice changes, and helping plan for new education programs based on needs assessments.

Change agents: Charge nurses can also be extremely helpful change agents. Changes can come from regulatory agencies, research, evidence-based practice, and organizational or unit-specific enhancements. As change agents, charge nurses can help teach patient care staff about practice changes, assist with competency assessment, and ensure compliance.

Mentors: Developing mentorship skills in the charge nurse role can have a significant effect on the skills of patient care team, the quality of care provided to patients, and staff retention rates. As patient care team members are mentored to help develop their skills and grow professionally, they become more confident in performing their duties and responsibilities. Mentorship is a very positive aspect of staff development, and if you train your charge nurses to develop this skill, you can bring your patient care team to a higher level.

Does your organization have charge nurses? What kind of additional roles do the charge nurses fulfill?


Source: Excerpt from Charge Nurse Program Builder: Tools for Developing Unit Leaders, written by Tammy L. Berbarie, BA, RN, RN-BC

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Sarah Kearns About the Author: Sarah is an Editorial Assistant in the patient safety group at HCPro, Inc. She contributes to two monthly newsletters; Briefings on the Joint Commission and Briefings on Patient Safety, and manages four e-zines; Accreditation Connection, AHAP Staff Challenge, Nurse Manager Weekly, and Healthcare Training Weekly. She also helps research new products for the patient safety and nursing market. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 where she earned her bachelor's degree in English.

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  1. The role of the charge nurse is the most challanging role. They are often overlooked as a member of the nursing leadership team. I’m interested in the educational prepartation that we provide the charge nurses

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