Emergency Nurse

Emergency Nurse – A High Energy and High Satisfaction Nursing Career
An Emergency Room nurse (ER Nurse or Emergency Nurse) works in a high stress environment dealing with minor emergencies as well as life threatening traumas and illnesses. The Emergency nurse must be well educated, able to think and react fast to life threatening emergencies, and triage patients so that the most critical patients are treated first. The variety of cases in emergency room treatment for the nurse is part of what makes this job so challenging.

ER Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

The emergency nurse can frequently find employment in a hospital or trauma emergency room. However, these specialized nurses can also be found in emergency medical flight situations, pre-emergency care or urgent care clinics, and working as contract nurses for special events

The emergency nurse will not only work with individuals in life threatening situations but also assess a number of less life threatening emergencies such as broken bones, burns, cuts and bruising prioritizing patient needs and monitoring patients during treatment or pre-admission.

Emergency room nurses are competent in both general nursing duties and in emergency procedures such as assisting with intubation, cardiac monitoring, dealing with major wounds and stabilizing patients before they are moved into ICU. The work of an Emergency  nurse can be challenging and stressful particularly when a major event floods an emergency room with critically injured or ill patients. This is a nursing position that requires good judgement an even temperament and the ability to work under extreme pressure when lives are on the line.

How to Become an ER Nurse

An emergency room nurse must hold a valid RN, LPN or LVN license. However for larger hospital or specialty emergency rooms a nursing diploma is usually not enough. The nurse may require a certificate in emergency nursing and often hospital emergency rooms require experience or a licensed 2 or 4 year RN.

ER nursing is challenging and well paid and the requirements for the ER nurse to practice depend upon the size of the hospital and their emergency department. New graduates can be hired in the ER department in some cases, but most times the department prefers nurses with certain types of acute care experience or who are enrolled in an approved ER program.

ER Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

The requirements for an Emergency nurse vary with the hospital. However all ER nurses must hold a valid nursing license.

  • Graduation from an accredited nursing program is required.
  • A valid and unencumbered nursing license as an LPN, LVN or RN is required.
  • Certification as an Emergency room nurse is highly preferred by many hospitals and is administered by The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) which is a division of the Emergency Nurses’ Association (ENA). The ENA recommends nurses to obtain the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential. Most certification programs are open to Registered Nurses only. Two years experience as an emergency nurse is preferred but not required. To obtain certification, nurses must pass a computer-based exam consisting of 175 multiple-choice questions. The certification exam will involve testing you in the most common emergency room scenarios including wound management, cardiovascular, orthopedic, neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory and substance abuse emergencies as well as professional issues encountered in an emergency-care setting. For those interested, the ENA also awards certification for Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN) specialists and training for advance trauma nursing. Certification is not required, but it is endorsed and highly recommended by the ENA.

ER Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The Emergency Room Nurse plays a vital role in trauma care, cardiac care, and in treating burns, cuts, abrasions and broken bones that can occur with anyone at some point. The job outlook for this nursing specialty is very good. The BLS predicts a strong steady job growth until 2018.

The salary of the average Emergency Nurse is over 59,000 for Registered Nurses depending upon the state and hospital size.


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You might also be interested in one of the following featured nursing programs that are currently accepting students and have online or hybrid nursing programs. You can get in touch with these featured programs directly to get your questions answered. Be sure to check with each program on specific prerequisites for their program!

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