Emergency Room Nurse Training – Facts vs Fiction


Being a nurse in an ER setting is a high stress job, and emergency room nurse training reflects that. The stress that a lot of emergency room nurses experience can even end up compounded by the misconceptions that many patients and their families have about nurses, their scope of practice, and what kind of training they’ve received.

This includes myths like:

–        “Nurses aren’t as good as doctors, because they aren’t as educated.”

–        “Nurses are just doctors’ assistants, and can only do what doctors tell them to.”

–        “Hospitals have plenty of nurses.”

–        “ER nursing is for women.”

These are just a handful of things people tend to wrongfully associate with nursing, which can end up making the emergency nurse-patient relationship more difficult than it needs to be, and even discourage new students from wanting to become emergency nurses.

“Nurses aren’t as good as doctors.”

Emergency room nurse training takes a minimum of two to four years, depending on the state a nurse is practicing in. This only counts actual in-school instruction- after graduation, ER nurses are required to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, and then the Certified Emergency Nurse Exam. Some nurses choose to go beyond becoming RNs, and actually go back to school to get their master’s degrees or doctorates’ to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. All of these measures are designed to turn out nurses that are qualified to do all of the duties defined in their scope of practice, which is not the same as a doctor’s scope of practice.

“Nurses are just doctor’s assistants.”

ER nurses are trained to exercise their own judgment while performing their duties. Nurses are fully capable of questioning a doctor’s choices, and developing a patient’s care plan based on a doctor’s decision. An ER nurse’s ultimate function is to monitor patients, alert doctors when any changes occur, and make sure that any implemented care plans are in their patients’ best interest. Though they may assist doctors, that is not the sum total of their scope of practice.

“Hospitals have plenty of nurses.”

Most hospitals are hurting for qualified emergency staff. Many older nurses are leaving the profession because their facilities are shorthanded, leaving them to pick up mandatory overtime and cut back on patient care. Hospitals may have a lot of staff, but not all of the people that care for a patient are nurses- many may only be certified nursing assistants, which are not legally allowed to perform many of the duties that an emergency room nurse is responsible for.

“ER nursing is for women.”

It’s getting better, but many patients still think the “female nurse, male doctor” stereotype is in play, especially in hospital emergency rooms. In reality, the number of male nurses is steadily growing, as more and more young men choose to enroll in emergency room nurse training programs. Though they still make up just under 6% of the total nursing population in the U.S., that’s changing- by the year 2020, male nurses are expected to make up a full 25% of nurses.

Why You Should Become an Emergency Room Nurse

The world is facing a serious nursing shortage, and it looks like it’s only going to get worse if more new nurses don’t begin entering the workforce. By undergoing emergency room nurse training and becoming a certified ER nurse, you’ll be able to alleviate the current nursing shortage, and find yourself in an industry that will always have a job available for you. Nursing in an emergency setting can be stressful and hectic, but it’s rewarding and well-paying, too.

Each state has its own requirements for emergency nurses. If you are interested in enrolling in emergency room nurse training courses, you first stop should be your state’s Board of Nursing. The Board of Nursing can provide you with educational requirements, certification information, lists of approved nursing programs in your state, and even financial aid information. Many states are hurting for qualified emergency staff, so you may be able to find a loan forgiveness program that would allow you to attend school cheaply.

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