An emergency room’s insides may be the background for many TV dramas, but it’s where everything happens for ER nurses. Nurses in the emergency room are prepared for the unexpected and fast-paced environment. They are self-sufficient and need to make decisions confidently and quickly to ensure patients are assessed and appropriately treated. For many, the ER can be intimidating, but it is the battlefield they come to every day for ER nurses.
What is an Emergency Room Nurse?
Unlike other units, the ER nurse can play different roles. Most emergency room nurses take on multiple roles throughout their careers. ER nurses treat patients suffering from trauma, injury, or severe medical conditions requiring urgent care. They work in crises that primarily require instant attention.
- Trauma Nurse: Works in Trauma Centers and helps patients who come in by ambulance, helicopter, or personal vehicles.
- Code Nurse: Works in Code Rooms where the sickest patients go in the emergency room.
- Triage Nurse: Works in the emergency room, sorting patients based on their vital signs, complaints, and resources to help decide who gets seen first by a provider.
- Flight Nurse: Works out of helicopters and planes to transport critically injured or ill patients transported between emergency departments.
- Critical-Care Transport (CCT) Nurse: Works in ambulances and cares for patients while being transported from one facility to another.
- Pediatric ER Nurse: Works in the pediatric emergency room caring for patients under the age of 18.
- Burn Center Nurse: Works in Burn Centers and are specially trained in burn victim resuscitation and burn care.
- Geriatric ER Nurse: Works in Geriatric Centers and cares primarily for elderly patients who require acute care.
- Charge Nurse: Works in the emergency room, and it’s the department captain, responsible for staffing, patient assignments, and more.
National average salary: $68,425 per year
Job outlook: 12% increase by 2028
Where Do ER Nurses Work?
Most ER nurses work in the emergency departments of hospitals or medical clinics. However, emergency nurses can also find themselves working as flight nurses on search and rescue teams. Interestingly, ER nurses can have a thriving career in the film industry as movie medics. ER nurses can also serve patients on cruise ships since they’re well suited for the unique work environment and challenges this presents.
There are also less hectic work environments for ER nurses, like at schools or walk-in clinics. Most ER nurses can work virtually anywhere. It depends on their certifications and particular skills.
What Kind of Patients Are On the ER Unit?
The emergency room receives every kind of patient. People can come in with headaches, skin infections, back pain, toothaches, and other complaints. Other typical ER visits include foreign objects in the body, skin infections, contusions, cuts, respiratory infections, broken bones, and sprains. These are patients that require immediate and acute care, on-the-clock monitoring, and accurate diagnosis.
What Does an ER Nurse Do?
Emergency room nurses follow very similar duties to other nurses, such as monitoring patients, recording vital signs, administering medications, and so forth. However, ER nurses also experience the pressure and fast-paced environment of the emergency room. An ER nurse’s fundamental role will also vary on her particular skill set, area of emergency covered, and department they work.
Most responsibilities include:
- Check medical equipment to ensure it’s functioning properly
- Keep supplies stock between patients
- Perform or assist with tests like EKGs, electrocardiograms, and blood draws
- Ask questions to get an accurate idea of the symptoms and condition
- Maintain detailed charting notes to ensure continuity of care
How Do You Become an ER Nurse?
The first step is to become a registered nurse (RN) by obtaining either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Next, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to get your appropriate license. It’s important to get related emergency experience to later apply for the certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). While this isn’t required, it’s an added plus to your resume. ER nurse certifications will also vary by the type of work you wish to specialize in.
- Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
- Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
- Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)
- Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN)
- Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN)
What Skills Do You Need to Be an ER Nurse?
There’s no specific set of qualities required to be an emergency room nurse. It’s more about having particular characteristics that make you well-suited for the job. Emergency nurses must be able to remain calm in highly stressful and high-pressure situations. Having a thirst for knowledge is a common trait among ER nurses that helps them stay on top of the latest developments to be flexible with their treatment recommendations and approaches to certain situations.
Most common skills for ER nurses include:
- Confidence to be firm and direct
- Coping skills
Starting Your Emergency Room Nursing Career
A career in emergency room nursing is ever-changing, exciting, and filled with challenges. If this career path interests you, there’s a journey towards becoming one. By specializing in ER nursing, you have the opportunity to explore working at different settings and locations as a travel nurse. At Stability Healthcare, we place nurses in hospitals across the United States, helping them expand their horizons in specialties like ER care. Contact us today and speak with one of our representatives to get started.