Top 6 Traits of a Successful Charge Nurse

A charge nurse is, essentially, in charge. He or she has the responsibility of managing or supervising an individual department within a facility. They often arrange schedules, direct admission and discharge, supervise the use of supplies, and delegate assignments. Clearly, it is a very busy position and one that requires stamina, motivation, and the ability to multitask effectively.

To become an efficient and successful charge nurse requires certain traits to be practiced and developed. Here is a list of a few key attributes that help charge nurses succeed in this challenging role.

Leadership Skills

As a nurse who often leads a department within a healthcare organization, one of the most obvious and necessary traits that a charge needs to possess is great leadership skills. The successful charge nurse recognizes the difference between leading and managing: a leader works together with her team and guides them through trying times. She doesn’t simply tell others what to do; instead, she leads by example and never shirks her duties. She is often the hardest-working person on her team and refuses to sit back and relax while her team does the grunt work.

They are Motivating

Outstanding charge nurses have the intrinsic ability to motivate others. Part of this is showing that you value the other nurses that you work with and oversee. If you want to practice good motivating techniques, reach out to your team and ask them for their advice on a certain patient. This will show that you appreciate and respect their input. This, in turn, will help them build their confidence since they will be more willing to put themselves out there. Giving employees extra responsibilities is a way in which you can further show your trust in their abilities.


Any good nurse possesses empathy and practices it on a daily basis, not only with their patients but also with coworkers. A great charge nurse takes care to practice their empathy with the team they work with. One way to do this is to make sure you listen to nurses when they express concerns. As you listen to them, try to understand where they are coming from and why they might be frustrated. You will most likely realize that you have felt similarly and can give advice on how to handle the situation.


Nursing is a notoriously unpredictable profession. From the scheduling to the patients that you see each day, it’s best not to have too many expectations. If you do, you could run into all-too-frequent disappointment when things don’t go as you might have hoped.

Being a charge nurse is similar, except this time, you are in charge of making the right calls when chaos happens. Instead of relying on others, you’ll need to be able to change the course of your plans for the day to suit the new circumstances. Being flexible will ensure that all necessary things are attended to in a timely manner.


If you are a new charge nurse, you might experience bouts of self-doubt. This is totally normal! There will come days when you aren’t sure of yourself or your abilities to lead a team successfully. Having confidence in yourself is key to prospering in your new role. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it,” this is the time to put it into practice.

Don’t forget that you were chosen for this role because someone believes in your abilities. If someone else is confident in what you can do, why shouldn’t you be?

Sense of Humor

Your team members almost certainly won’t judge you by how funny your jokes are, so that’s not exactly what we’re talking about when we mention a sense of humor. Instead, what we mean is that not taking things, including yourself, too seriously will help you be a better leader. If you can laugh openly at yourself, your team won’t be afraid to confess to mistakes they’ve made. We’re often hardest on ourselves, so if you give yourself some slack, your team will know what they can expect if they mess up in some small way. Plus, your day will be much easier if you can learn to let things go and find humor in the small mishaps that will certainly happen throughout the day.

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