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Emergency Nurse Job Description, Career as a Emergency Nurse, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

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Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor degree with a registered nurse license

Median Salary: $57,280 annually

Job Prospects: Excellent

Job Description

An emergency nurse handles patients in trauma situations. This particular type of nurse is trained not only in patient care, but in how to deal with and assess a patient in an emergency setting. This is a specialization that registered nurses can elect and is usually part of their rotation when they go through training.

Emergency nurses care for patients as they enter into an emergency room or urgent care facility. Not only do they need to be registered nurses who are well versed in patient care, they need to be able to handle crisis situations. An individual in this position must be able to handle high pressure situations and provide a proper diagnosis or urgent care for the patient on the spot. There is the potential to deal with patients who are very sick or who have sustained major injuries. Nurses working within this specialization must be able to effectively deal with patients in life-threatening situations and provide assessments rather quickly.

While an emergency nurse is not be able to perform surgery or handle more intricate issues like a doctor, oftentimes they are the first line of defense to patients who enter the emergency room. They must be well versed in catering to a variety of medical conditions, ailments, and injuries as the caseload will vary by patient. They must be able to switch gears and remain calm even in the most chaotic situation. They are responsible for caring for the patient and getting them prepared for the next steps in their treatment. Emergency nurses are often under a great deal of stress, but are challenged to deal with virtually any type of medical emergency or patient situation.

Training/Educational Requirements

Most emergency nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. There is the possibility an individual in this position may just have a certificate from an accredited nursing program, however, the norm is to have a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree). It’s imperative that an emergency nurse have a license as a registered nurse. This includes passing a licensing exam that proves the individual’s knowledge of all related subject matters.

There are many different paths a nurse can take to get to their specialty. They may decide in their nursing program to practice as an emergency nurse or their career path may lead to this area. Most nursing programs dictate what series of rotations an individual takes at the hospital. Most include the emergency room as one rotation. This gives them exposure to different specialties. For some, this is where they make their decision to focus their career in this specific area.

Most of the time, emergency nurses are involved with some sort of curriculum to keep their license current. It is a good idea to keep up with current practices and trends in handling patient care, particularly in this high stress area. At the very minimum, an emergency nurse must keep up on her CPR certification to be able to handle patient situations that arise.

How to Get Hired

Many emergency nurses start off as a licensed practical nurse or even as a nurse’s aide as they work their way through the process. This is an excellent place for individuals within the nursing profession to start off to gain valuable experience. This coupled with a proper education will enable an individual to work towards advancement more quickly. Prospective emergency nurses focus their attention on the emergency room directly.

Experience and education are the key to getting hired. It is also helpful to have emergency room experience to prepare for this career. Most of the time, the hands-on training one gains from working in the emergency room is the best preparation for working full-time as an emergency nurse. The ability to handle a wide array of patients in varying medical emergencies under pressure is what the job requires. Gaining experience as a nurse and learning from experienced nurses in the emergency room is what helps an to get hired into this position.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Overall the need for nurses is expected to increase greatly. There is expected to be greater than average growth up through 2016 as the need for registered nurses continues to rise. This can vary by specialty and in some cases, the need for emergency nurses may slow down compared to other specialties. Although there is always the need for an emergency room and nurses to staff it, there are a number of procedures being handled directly in physician’s office that may take away potential opportunities for this field.

There is, however, room for growth among emergency nurses since there is a higher than average turnover in this specialty. The reason for this is attributed in great part to the high stress level of the job. Many nurses within the emergency area get burned out faster than in other areas of the profession. This opens up new opportunities for new emergency nurses, and allows those interested in the profession to transfer from a different specialty.

Having a bachelor’s degree in nursing, along with a registered nurse license enables an individual interested in becoming an emergency nurse to gain employment faster. The chances go up significantly for those who spent time in the emergency room and who have the ability to handle the varying patient load and high stress levels of this specialty.

Working Environment

An emergency nurse has a different working environment than their counterparts in other specialties. Most of the time, individuals within this profession work within an emergency room or urgent care facility since this is the nature of their job. This environment is flooded with people going in and out from the chaos of the different emergency situations. The patient turnover is very high as patients are often seen and then moved onto the appropriate next steps for their treatment. In any given day, an emergency nurse sees a wide array of patients with completely different ailments.

This is a high stress environment, often higher than any other as the crisis situations are very real. Patients must be seen quickly and nurses must be able to think quickly on their feet, and handle stress. There are people moving around quickly in this environment and it’s important to be able to keep your cool. Often times emergency nurses may be helping to load patients off of the emergency truck and are the first line of defense as they help to determine the best route of treatment, in conjunction with doctors. This contributes to a chaotic, noisy, yet very organized working environment to manage.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary for a registered nurse was about $57,280 per year in 2006. The salary range varies by geographic location as well as specialty. However, an emergency nurse is expected to earn anywhere between $40,250 and $83,440 per year at the high end. The more experience an individual has, the higher their salary.

Emergency nurses usually receive excellent medical benefits, flexible work schedules, and in some cases, an on-site child care facility. They are eligible for bonuses and usually receive some money towards education. Other benefits include paid vacation and sick time based on the number of years of service.

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