Title: The Licensed Practical Nurse in the Charge or Supervisor Nurse Role (formerly Licensed Practical Nurse Charge Nurses/Nurse Supervisors) 

Advisory Ruling Number: 9802

Authority: The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing issues this Advisory Ruling on Nursing practice pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) chapter 30A, section 8 and chapter 112, section 80B.

Date Issued: November 12, 1997

Date Revised: July 10, 2002, November 14, 2012

Scope of Practice: Licensed Practical Nurse

Purpose: To guide the practice of the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) who is employed or assigned to function as a charge nurse, supervisor, or other similar position regardless of title.

Such practice must be in compliance with: Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) c. 112, s. 80B; 244 CMR 3.02: Responsibilities and Functions - Registered Nurse; 244 CMR 3.04: Responsibilities and Functions- Practical Nurse; 244 CMR 9.03 (10): Acts Within Scope of Practice; 244 CMR 9.03(11): Performance of Techniques and Procedures; 244 CMR 9.03 (12): Competency; and 244 CMR 9.03(46): Responsibilities of Nurse in Management Role.

For the purposes of this Advisory Ruling, the role of charge nurse or supervisor is an administrative function that is designed to accomplish the delivery of nursing care for a designated group of patients for a designated period of work time. 

Advisory: It is within the LPN’s scope of practice to function in the charge or supervisor nurse role.  This role may include, but is not limited to: making staff assignments; creating schedules; contributing to the evaluation of personnel; budgetary management; and educating others to organizational policy and procedure.  To “make a staff assignment” means to appoint or designate a Registered Nurse (RN), LPN or unlicensed person (UP) the responsibility for the implementation of an established nursing care plan for a designated group of patients for a designated period of work time.  The staff assignment must be: within the assignee’s scope of practice and/or competency; and, consistent with the assignee’s job description and the employing agency policies. 

The LPN may only assume the duties and responsibilities of the charge or supervisor nurse role for which he or she has acquired and maintained the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities.  Such competence may be acquired and maintained through nursing education, continuing education and on-the-job training.  It is not within the scope of practice of the LPN in the charge or supervisor nurse role to engage in clinical decision making for the RN to whom the LPN makes an assignment.

The LPN in the charge or supervisor nurse role is responsible and accountable for his or her nursing judgments, actions and competency.

Each RN and LPN to whom the LPN in the charge or supervisor nurse role makes an assignment is responsible and accountable for the nursing care he or she provides.  Such nursing care may include the delegation of nursing activities by a licensed nurse to a UP.

The process of making a staff assignment can be distinguished from the delegation of nursing care (see Table 1).

Table 1

 Making a Staff AssignmentDelegation
DefinitionThe distribution of work that each RN, LPN or UP is responsible for during a given period of work time.[1]The authorization by a licensed nurse to a UP to provide selected nursing services.[2]
Who may initiateRN or LPNRN or LPN
Who is recipientRN, LPN or UPUP
Functional areaAdministrativeClinical
  • The job description of charge nurse or supervisor must include the duties and responsibilities of its administrative role.
  • Concurrent with administrative duties and responsibilities, the LPN in the charge or supervisor role may also provide nursing care to a designated group of patients for a designated period of work time.
[1] Adapted from the American Nurses Association and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Joint Statement on Delegation.
[2] 244 CMR 3.00.

 


This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.