Breaking Down Nursing Team Roles

IV Drip in hands

When you enter the healthcare and nursing fields, you will be working within a team at a hospital or a medical office. To help new nurses and students understand where they will probably be slotted as a new staffer, we broke down the various team roles to give you a point of reference as you study and apply for jobs.

Nursing Director/Nursing Officer

High-ranking nurse directors or Chief Nursing Officers (CNO) may or may not be applicable for every job. They are typically empowered at larger healthcare facilities to formulate and implement budgets, recommend new technologies, and other high-level administrative functions. Nursing directors are registered nurses with senior-level experience. While it’s not a clinical position, CNOs and nursing directors need to understand how to interact with patients and families as well as other senior-level directors and hospital administrators. Most nurses in this role also have advanced degrees beyond a BSN such as a masters or a doctorate.

Nurse Manager

The nurse manager is the team member who immediately oversees a large nursing staff. Nurse managers evaluate staff performance, recommend training, monitor personnel issues and interaction, and anything needed to ensure that patients are receiving efficient and adequate care from the rest of the nursing staff. Nurse manager RNs require strong communication and leadership skills, and will have a BSN or higher.

Charge Nurses

This RN role assigns scheduling and staffing for a specific floor or section of the hospital for each shift. The charge nurse is the first go-to if there is an issue with a staff nurse or a patient. Think of them as a sort of assistant or staff manager. They make decisions on the fly for hospitalized patients to make sure that each shift goes smoothly for the staff nurses and the rest of the team.

Staff Nurses

These RNs provide the direct patient care. Also referred to as “bedside nurses”, a staff nurse is assigned to each patient for the duration of his or her shift. They are the primary caretakers of patients, administering medication, monitoring vital signs, responding to patient requests, and communicating patient information to the next incoming staff nurse. Most RNs will start their careers as a staff nurse, and could advance to specialties and higher admin roles from there.

Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurses

LVNs and LPNs are licensed nurses who have almost (depending upon the facility) as many responsibilities as staff nurses. LPNs take vital signs, monitor IVs, administer medications, collect data and notes on the patient. Unlike an RN, they cannot make treatment recommendations, but do collaborate with staff and nurse managers to ensure that patients receive the best care possible. Many licensed vocational nurses go on to earn their BSN and become registered nurses after they start working in the field. Due to the increasing nursing demand, may work at healthcare centers that will reimburse them for advanced education to transition as an RN later.

Certified Nursing Assistants

Nursing assistants round out the nursing team, taking vital signs, and sometimes respond to call buttons and patient emergencies when an LVN or RN isn’t available. In some facilities, CNAs help patients with basic functions like using the bathroom and ensuring their patients are as comfortable as possible. They also can assist nurses with procedures like inserting an IV or moving a patient to a new room.

Becoming a licensed vocational nurse or a registered nurse is a calling. It’s also a rewarding career with almost endless potential for specializations, travel, and growth. Our accelerated program gets LVNs in California trained in just over a year so you can join the field as soon as possible. Contact us to change your life today.


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