Emergency Nursing

April 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Ever Considered Emergency Nursing?

Emergency Nurses treat patients in emergency medical situations where they are seriously injured or experiencing trauma. These professionals are trained to quickly recognise life-threatening problems and make on-the-spot decisions about the best course of action to be taken.

What an emergency nurse does

Gap Medics students with their mentor at Nakornping Hospital, Chiang Mai. On any given shift in a busy facility, emergency medical nurses and their team are often faced with a wide array of medical emergencies, ranging from illnesses and injuries to accidents and crimes. These could include broken bones, poisonings, car accidents, dangerously high fevers, drug overdoses, gunshots, stab wounds, heart attacks, strokes and more.

Emergency nurses must be able to assess each of their patients quickly and as accurately as possible. During this evaluation, they must determine which patients need medical attention more urgently than others.

The first step that an emergency nurse must take when faced with a patient in critical condition is to stabilise that patient. This means working to ensure that the patient’s condition will not deteriorate or worsen.

Because the types of cases are so varied, emergency nurses are expected to be familiar with a diverse range of procedures ranging from cardiopulmonary resuscitation, blood transfusion and tracheotomies to rescue breathing, suturing, delivering babies and setting broken bones. 

Emergency nurses should also be knowledgeable about diagnostic tests and procedures, such as electrocardiograms and x-rays.

Where do emergency nurses work?

Some of the most common settings for emergency nurses include hospital emergency rooms, triage centres, ambulances, trauma centres and urgent care centres. Emergency nurses also find employment with clinics, crisis intervention centres, emergency response units, helicopters, sports arenas, prisons or correctional facilities, and even the different branches of the military.

How to become an emergency nurse

To practice as an emergency nurse, you will first need to take the necessary steps to become a registered nurse, which includes earning your nursing degree and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You can also choose to continue your education, earn your master’s degree, and become an advance practice nurse.

Experience working in emergency medical situations is a must when pursuing an emergency nursing career. You can gain this experience by opting to work as a “floating nurse” in your hospital’s emergency room or by assisting teams of paramedics.

Certification as an emergency nurse is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended, as employers often favour applicants that made an effort to take these extra steps. To become certified as an emergency nurse, you will need at least two years of experience working in an emergency medical setting, such as an emergency room. You will then qualify to sit for the Certified Emergency Nurses Examination, which is administered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.

Do you have what it takes?

Working in this specialty can be fast-paced, emotionally rattling and nerve racking. It requires you to put in insanely long hours of work in a highly stressful environment. However, if you are looking for a fast-paced, multifaceted nursing career in which you can truly make a difference, a career as an emergency nurse might be the perfect option for you.

These personal characteristics will serve you well as an emergency nurse:

Ability to think fast and on your feet

Ability to shift gears and accelerate your pace when necessary

Ability to multi-task

Excellent observation, assessment, and prioritisation skills

Good interpersonal and customer service skills

Good personal coping skills

Assertive patient advocate

Ability to maintain calm amidst chaos

Working as an emergency nurse is a career that is often filled with stress and long hours. However, at the end of the day, you can head home knowing that you’ve helped at least some of your patients live to see another day.