The head nurse or nursing supervisor is responsible for formulating work schedules, assigning duties for each nurse in shift and making sure they are adequately trained for their assignments. The head nurse is responsible for each nurse’s performance during her shift. All functions and job descriptions should be done and implemented in her shift.
Aside from managing the nursing staff, the head nurse also perform basic nursing duties when understaffed, which may include monitoring vital signs, giving medication and changing wound dressings. Other important tasks of a head nurse include creating schedules for the staff nurses, ensuring medical records are securely kept and accurately updated, ensuring ward areas and patients’ rooms are in hygienic and comfortable state, as well as making rounds with physicians and observing instructions with regard to treatment or care alterations. Head nurses also order drugs, solutions and equipment for patient care; monitor intake of medication and inform physicians about treatment changes; and read patient records, shift reports and treatment records. Head nurses are considered arbiters of any conflicts amongst staff members, so they must resolve issues judiciously. They are responsible for the qualifications of their staff making sure they are fully trained, capable of their duties and updated with new hospital policies and guidelines. They hear complaints from patients and their relatives referring matters to the nurse director or the facility administrator.
Education and Training Requirements
A bachelor of arts in nursing is a requirement to qualify as a head nurse. A master’s degree can enhance one’s chances and greatly facilitate a position for head nurse. All nurses are required to pass the NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
Besides nursing skills, one needs to have leadership ability to be a good head nurse. One must be an excellent communicator, has good negotiating skills and wise judgment. Administrative skills are essential for a head nurse as she manages the work of other nurses.
Most nurses work in comfortable and well lighted facilities. A regular work schedule is usually followed but most nurses are required to do overtime work. Head nurses often work on nights weekends and holidays. Head nurses must observe adhere to guidelines to guard against disease and other dangers, like radiation, accidental needle sticks and chemicals used for sterilization purposes. They are prone to back injury when moving patients.
The median salary for a head nurse is $64,800. They enjoy bonuses and benefits in the form of 401k, disability, healthcare and pension.