What a Trauma Nurse Does
Trauma nurse training leads to a specialty position, which falls under the heading of “Emergency Nurses.” A trauma nurse deals specifically with patients who are the victims of physical damage to the extent that trauma, either physical or emotional/mental, has set in. These nurses must be able to provide special care while diagnosing and treating injuries in emergency care situations, including head, muscle, organ, tissue, body or skeletal injuries.
In addition to such elementary triage on patients, they must also be able to cast and splint fractures and bone breaks, administer for shock symptoms, suture and provide bandaging for major and minor wounds, prepare the patients for surgeries, and even administer anesthesia in some cases.
The main purpose of a trauma nurse is to obviate the effects of trauma, a major contributor to shock, damage and death in the early stages of profound injury. This obviously requires a person who not only has the required medical training and experience, but can keep a cool head and an even temperament during the most trying emergency situations.
How to Train as a Trauma Nurse
All medical facilities expect Trauma nurses to be Registered Nurses first, and to hold a valid Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) license. You must therefore prepare for this specialty by completing RN training. In high school and preparatory college courses, you should emphasize mathematics and the sciences (biology, chemistry, anatomy); onceyour education reaches college level, you should attend either a university with an accredited nursing program, or a nursing training facility with similar accreditation (once you have completed preliminary curriculum at college level).
As soon as you have passed the Registered Nursing examination for your state, you can attend any of a number of hands-on training courses in Trauma specializing.
Please note: in order to certify as an RN, you must have completed at least 1,000 hours of hands-on clinical experience. Trauma nurse certification, depending on your state, will require at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience in an emergency room or trauma setting, and four thousand will be the preferred number experientially for you to be competitive in this job market.
Specific Areas of Trauma Nurse Training
Some specific hands-on experience and training you must achieve before being allowed to certify as a trauma nurse include the following areas:
The biomechanics of injury
Assessments and diagnosis
Airway and ventilation clearing
Specific trauma treatments (for brain, face, neck, thorax, abdomen, spinal cord and skeleton)
Burn trauma treatments
Patients with special needs: aged, pregnant, child and infant
Care and transition of trauma patients
Many of these in-house trauma nurse training programs are offered by specific medical facilities where you train and/or are hired as an RN. The most frequent certification is from the TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Course) programs. You must complete the examinations successfully as well, and TNCC verification is issued then from the American Board of Nursing Specialties.
You can subsequently train in your selected facility to obtain certification (again, an examination is required) as a TNS (Trauma Nurse Specialist), TNP (Trauma Nurse Practitioner) or even a TNCC instructor. This is also a step towards obtaining further certification as an ER nurse.
Job Outlook and Salary for the Trauma Nurse
The trauma nurse, as well as all other emergency medical technicians, has a job outlook that is “good” according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, growing “about as fast as the average” for all such occupations, an average of 9 percent between 2013 and 2018, and a median starting salary of approximately $60,000.
One reason the BLS feels that this figure may inflate beyond 9 percent is due to the increased crowding in emergency rooms throughout the country. More crowded ERs means more medical professionals, including trauma nurses, will be needed to spend additional time with patients before a doctor is able to see them, and also increases the demand for trauma with all their TNCC training in place, as much of it will become practical very quickly in an ER situation.
The trauma nurse job is not for everyone, obviously, but if you can work life-saving techniques in high-pressure situations you may be an excellent match to this challenging and life-giving profession, so trauma nurse training is something you should definitely consider.