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 (Most travel nurses earn higher pay since they are in high demand than their full-time, staff nurse counterparts)
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.
What certifications are commonly held by Emergency Department nurses?
- Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
- Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
- Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)
- Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN)
- Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN)
More certifications that some employers may prefer:
- Covid-19 Certification (Covid-19 Certification)
- Domestic violence nurse examiner (DVNE)
- Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS)