An Overview Of Becoming An LPN Charge Nurse

What Is An LPN Charge Nurse?

According to ehow.com an “LPN charge nurses oversees the work of other licensed practical nurses and nursing aides, who all provide general care and monitoring of sick and injured patients under the supervision of physicians or registered nurses”. As the name suggests, as an LPN charge nurse you will be in charge of others. In the past only RNs could really become charge nurses but changing times mean more responsibilities for LPNs.

Nature of the Work/Duties

The LPN charge nurse is responsible for fulfilling the following roles in the healthcare environment:

  • Supervision
  • Charting
  • Medications
  • Safety
  • Care Plans

An LPN charge nurse supervises other LPNs and nurse aides in her wing of the hospital, and in turn is supervised by an RN, although the RN does not need to be in the building. Charting involves keeping records of information like medication administration, vitals, and safety protocols. The LPN charge nurse ensures that this is done properly. Some facilities will only allow a charge nurse to administer medications. The LPN charge nurse is responsible for the safety of her patients and employees at all times during her shift and is responsible for preparing care plans for each patient.

Employment

LPN Charge NurseLPN charge nurses are employed in setting where nurses require supervision. This, essentially, means any healthcare setting, including:

  • Hospitals (the most common place to find charge nurses of all kinds)
  • Hospices
  • Clinics

As an LPN charge nurse you will be required to work the same hours, more or less, as other LPNs. This means that you will need to work shifts that include nights and weekends. This should not come as a surprise – other nurses working at night need to be supervised in the same way as those working during the day, so LPN and RN charge nurses need to be on duty at all times to verse proceedings and ensure that everything is done according to hospital protocols and ethical and professional standards.
The most popular cities for an LPN charge nurse to be employed are:

  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Seattle, Washington

LPN Charge Nurse Requirements

In order to become an LPN charge nurse you must be licensed to work as an LPN in your state. In order to become licensed there are a number of education requirements that you will need to adhere to. Most LPNs earn a diploma or certificate in nursing in order to do this job. The program has to be state approved and accredited by the appropriate bodies. If it is not you will essentially be wasting your time and your money on that program as the end result of the program will be a qualification that is useless in terms of helping you find employment as an LPN charge nurse. Most LPN charge nurse jobs require you to have a certain number of years of experience.

Personality Traits

The following personality characteristics are essential to being a good LPN charge nurse:

  • Exemplary people skills
  • An ability to work with both the nurses under their supervision and patients and their families
  • The ability to offer supervision that is straightforward
  • The ability to offer evaluations that are fair and honest
  • The ability to offer serve as a nursing educational resource for your staff
  • A clear understanding of the chain-of-command
  • The ability to give as well as take direction
  • The ability to multitask as you must also treat patients as required

Natural leadership skills will come in handy, although many people believe that leadership can be taught. If you have aspirations to become an LPN charge nurse you will need to be willing to accept the high degree of responsibility that comes with the position.

Educational Requirements

In order to become an LPN charge nurse there are two basic educational requirements that you will need to meet:

  • You must have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent in order to enter into the training necessary to become an LPN
  • You must complete an LPN training program from an accredited school

The LPN program that you complete must comprise of both a theoretical aspect as well as of a practical, hands-on training aspect. Both of these are educational requirements necessary to allow you to go on and become an LPN, your first step in becoming an LPON charge nurse. After that it is up to you to prove your leadership skills in a health care setting in order to become promoted to the position of charge nurse.

Licensure

Graduating from an accredited and approved LPN nursing program earns you the right to sit the licensing examination. This exam, called the NCSBN’s National Council Licensure Examination, is a requirement for all LPNs in all states across the country. In order to become licensed as an LPN you must:

  • Apply for licensure from your state board of nursing
  • Submit all necessary documentation and complete other requirements, such as criminal background checks and health exams
  • Once you have been approved for licensure, set an exam date with Pearson VUE – this will cost you $200
  • Sit the exam
  • Your results will be sent to your state board of nursing; passing the examination means that you will be granted licensure in your state
  • This license usually needs to be renewed regularly

How To Become An LPN Charge Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

If you want to move on from being an LPN charge nurse and become an RN charge nurse (usually referred to simply as a charge nurse) you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must have an Associate’s degree or diploma (bachelor’s degree may be preferred)
  • You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN)
  • You must meet any other state requirements
  • You must have certification in basic life support (certification in other areas may also be required)
  • You must have 3 or more years of experience (1+ years in a specialization may be required)
  • You must possess critical-thinking skills, compassion, organizational skills, sound judgment, creative-thinking, and customer service skills
  • In addition you must be able to spend long periods on feet and stooping over patients, be able to provide aid in moving and lifting patients and pushing or carrying medical equipment

Source An Accredited Education Program

It is extremely important that you attend an accredited training program when earning your LPN qualification with the aim of becoming an LPN charge nurse. This is because a qualification from a program that is not accredited will not get you anywhere. Your state board of nursing’s website should be able to provide you with information on this subject. In addition schools are required to publish their accreditation status on their own websites. However this is not necessarily reliable. Another good way to determine which schools are accredited in your area and which are not is by speaking to LPNs who work at your local hospital and asking them where they completed their training. In order for them to be where they are they must have completed an accredited program, making this an excellent source of information.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is not the most common form of qualification for LPN charge nurses, and most nursing candidates (86%) complete a state-approved practical or vocational nurse diploma program at a community college or vocational school, while only about ten percent complete an associate’s degree program. If you would like to earn an associate’s degree you should:

  • Find out what schools in your area offer the qualification
  • Create a list of criteria based on which you will choose a schools
  • Become aware of the entry requirements for each school and ensure that you adhere to them
  • Apply to at least 3 LPN schools to keep your options open
  • Pay the tuition fees and complete the program
  • Complete all theoretical and practical coursework

Graduating from the program means that you have successfully earned your associate’s degree in nursing.

Obtain Your Licensure

In order to become an LPN charge nurse the only license you need is your LPN license, which can be earned by completing an accredited program and writing the NCLEX-PN examination. The license must also be renewed once every few years depending on the rules of your state. There is no additional licensure required in order to become an LPN charge nurse. However some health care facilities may prefer for you to have a more advanced educational qualification, such as an associate’s degree, before you can be a charge nurse as an LPN. It is easier to become a charge nurse as an RN, but this will require returning to school and earning your RN license. Experience as a nurse is always a requirements before you can become an LPN charge nurse.

Online/Distance Education Programs

When it comes to LPN programs online you need to remember that an LPN course consists of the following two aspects:

  • Theoretical, book learning
  • Clinical, hands-on training

Although the theoretical portion of the coursework can be studied in an online setting, the clinical portion, clearly, cannot. Any online school claiming to offer the qualification entirely online is not being honest as you will always need to attend an actual healthcare facility of some kind in order to gain practical experience.

Good online schools will have measures in place to ensure that you are able to complete your practical training. Completing part of your course online can save you time and money and can make it easier for you to fit your education into your current schedule.

Job Outlook

According to www.bls.gov we can expect jobs for LPNs to continue improving at the very good rate that we have seen thus far. In fact this line of work is expected to increase 21% from 2008-2018, which would add about 155,000 positions in that decade to the roughly 753,000 LPNs employed in 2008. This should not come as a surprise – the healthcare industry has a strong reputation for being an industry that is always growing and that always offers job stability and security, regardless of the concurrent economic climate. This is because, as long as people get sick, nurses will always be needed, and those nurses will also always need to be supervised by a charge nurse of some description. The future job outlook for this sector of employment is indeed very promising.

Earnings

The average hourly rate for an LPN charge nurse is about $15.30 – $25.83 an hour with the potential of earning an overtime rate of $18.45 – $38.47 an hour. LPN charge nurses also have the potential of earning an annual bonus of anything from $0.00 to $783 a year. The overall average potential salary that an LPN charge nurse can earn is about $31,562 – $57,303 a year.

The industry that you choose to work in as an LPN charge nurse can affect how much you are paid:

  • In Long-term Care and Rehabilitation you can earn around $15.85 – $24.78 an hour
  • In a Nursing Home you can earn around $15.64 – $24.61 an hour
  • In Healthcare you can earn around $15.78 – $25.12 an hour
  • In Medical Services you can earn around $15.79 – $25.38 an hour
  • In Family Medicine you can earn around $15.46 – $24.46 an hour

Although women make up 92% of people employed as LPN charge nurses they earn less than the 8% of men in the same position. Women earn about $16.72 – $22.37 an hour, while men earn about $18.35 – $24.49 an hour.

Your level of education will also affect how much you can earn:

  • With an Associate’s Degree you can earn about $15.53 – $27.28 an hour
  • With a Diploma of Nursing (DN) you can earn about $18.49 – $26.52 an hour

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