By Christine Moffa, MS, RN clinical editor      

Most hospitals have charge nurses, although how they’re selected and what they do varies not only between hospitals but often between units in the same hospital. For instance, the first time I was in the role of charge nurse it was because none of the usual suspects were working that day! And my manager’s parting words were, “Looks like you’re getting baptized with fire. Good luck.” Thanks to the work of a quality improvement team, the nurses at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City won’t have to go through what I did.

This month’s Cultivating Quality column, An Evidence-Based Approach to  Taking Charge, “describes the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a charge nurse initiative in a large academic medical center.” After reviewing the literature and identifying issues through the use of focus groups, members signed up for different quality improvement teams to develop solutions and action plans.

            The following are some of the changes implemented by the teams:

  • The development of charge nurse core competencies and a definition of the role to be used hospital wide.
  • A standardized hand-off report to be used between charge nurses going off and on shift.
  • An orientation workshop using interactive case scenarios.

See the full article for a list of the charge nurse core competencies as well as an example of a case study used during the interactive workshop. Here’s a breakdown of the charge nurse role and its responsibilities:

Let us know your experience. How are charge nurses selected at your facility? Is there consistency in the responsibilities given to charge nurses between units or shifts—for example, do they take a patient assignment or not? And are they given any special training or support from management?

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