Everything You Need to Know about Emergency Nurses

Emergency Nurses

If you have hopes of pursuing a career in nursing, you’ve probably looked into the different specialties available to nurses. Each specialty demands its own skills and characteristics, which is especially true for those working in emergency nursing. Emergency nurses work in a fast-paced, stressful environment that requires a unique skillset above and beyond the standard nursing skills.

Are you intrigued at the thought of becoming an emergency nurse? Keep reading to learn more about which specific abilities and attributes are important in this dynamic nursing specialty. Then, if you feel you have what it takes, find out what steps you’ll need to take to become an emergency nurse.

What do emergency nurses do?

You may you think you have a good idea of what emergency nurses do after watching a few scenes from popular TV dramas like Scrubs or Grey’s Anatomy, but there’s a lot more to the profession than that.

Emergency nurses are responsible for treating patients in emergency situations where they are suffering from trauma or injury. Since these specialists are working in crisis situations, they must have the ability to quickly identify medical conditions and help solve them on the spot.

Emergency nurses encounter many conditions with varying degrees of severity – anywhere from a sore throat to a heart attack. Regardless of the situation, they must help stabilize their patients and minimize their pain. They work with patients of all ages and backgrounds.

Another pivotal part of an emergency nursing career that many are unaware of the role of educating the public. Emergency nurses may participate in public programs that promote wellness and prevent injuries, such as alcohol awareness, child passenger safety, gun safety, bicycle and helmet safety and domestic violence prevention.

Where do emergency nurses work?

It’s true that a majority of emergency nurses work in the emergency rooms of hospitals or medical clinics, but there are a few other places you may not have guessed. Emergency nurses also play important roles in ambulances, helicopters, urgent care centers and sports arenas throughout the globe. And it doesn’t end there. These specialty nurses can also work at universities and research institutions, cruise ships, poison control centers and beyond.

Think you could see yourself working as an emergency nurse at a hospital or on a cruise ship? Pay close attention to the critical characteristics that will help you excel in the specialty.

What are some important qualities successful emergency nurses share?

Given the vast spectrum of scenarios and situations emergency nurses could face, the job can be quite nerve racking and emotionally draining. It’s important that emergency nurses are able to remain calm in the midst of high-stress and high-pressure situations.

Emergency nurses must be able to thrive in a fast-paced environment where everything is go-go-go. The shifts might also involve long hours in a somewhat hazardous environment, since you are exposed to a number of different types of pathogens and patients.

You must also be a decision-maker; someone who is able to identify a situation and address it to the best outcome. These critical thinking abilities will be required in nearly every work shift, as emergency nurses must prioritize which patients will receive treatment first.

You can tell that working as an emergency nurse isn’t for everyone. But despite the challenges, many emergency nurses agree they have the most rewarding and exciting careers in the nursing field. This means that one of the most important qualities for emergency nurses to have is passion for helping patients.

How do you become an emergency nurse?

If you like what you’ve been hearing, you’re probably wondering what it takes to get started. Every nursing specialty has unique steps to take and requirements to meet. We’re going to break it down so you know the process for becoming an emergency nurse.

The first step is pretty simple: you must become a registered nurse (RN). This can be done by obtaining either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both roads lead to an RN career, but you’ll have to decide whether an ADN or a BSN is best for your own career aspirations.

After earning a nursing degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before working as a registered nurse. The next step is gaining some experience working in emergency medical situations, meaning you’ll have land a job and start getting your hands dirty. Some ways to acquire applicable experience would be opting to work as a floating nurse in your hospital’s emergency room or by assisting teams of paramedics.

After earning a minimum of two years of related emergency experience, you can apply to earn a certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). This credential is not required to land employment as an emergency nurse, but it is a recommended way to give you an edge on other candidates. The last step is applying for emergency nursing jobs and landing the position!

First things first…

Does the idea of working in the fast-paced environment of the emergency room get your adrenaline pumping? Then emergency nursing might be the perfect nursing specialty for you.

But before you get too far ahead of yourself, let’s start with step one. There’s no way to become an emergency nurse without first covering the basics. Learn how to get started in our article: How to Become a Registered Nurse.


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This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefit Corporation.

Aaron is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. His interest in writing articles for students stems from his passion for poetry and fiction and the belief that all words can educate.

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