Emergency Nurse: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Emergency room nurses must be quick-thinking and able to withstand long hours. Discover some other duties of an ER nurse, as well as the requirements to start a career in the field and how the job market looks for the near future.

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What Is an ER Nurse: Essential Information

Job Title Emergency nurse
Job Description Immediately tend to patient injuries or illnesses, use medical equipment in emergency situations, relay information to doctors and other nurses, describe at-home treatment for aftercare
Educational Requirements Associate or bachelor's degree, board certification
Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028)* 12% for registered nurses
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $71,730 for registered nurses

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

ER Nurse Job Description

Nurses are some of the first to see a patient when they arrive for medical treatment, and an ER nurse (sometimes known as a trauma nurse) can expect to make quick decisions when first assessing a patient. The role of an ER nurse can vary depending on time of day and the amount of patients, but ER nurse duties typically focus on the assessment of a patient who has serious and possibly life-threatening injuries or an illness that required a trip to the emergency department of a hospital or other medical facility. In the role of an ER nurse, you should be prepared to handle injuries and accidents that require you to remain calm and collected under pressure.

Here are a few other ER nurse duties and responsibilities examples:

  • Distribute medication and treatment to patients in emergency departments
  • Keep detailed records of patient vital signs and recommend treatment options to attending physicians
  • Evaluate patient health during emergency room stays and watch for signs of improvement
  • Consult other departments upon patient admission into hospital

ER Nurse Requirements in Education

To take on the role of nurse in the emergency department, you will need to complete the correct nursing educational program. You can do this with an Associate of Science in Nursing program, which typically takes two years to complete. Your plan of study in an associate degree can balance general education courses with nursing topics in health assessment and pharmacology. Beginning a career in nursing is also possible with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which you could begin as a traditional degree or an accelerated format if you're planning to become a nurse after a career change. Your nursing courses in a bachelor's program could include topics like public health, care of infants, and psychiatric nursing. For ER nurse certifications, you will need to pass the NCLEX administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Job Outlook for ER Nurses

Now that you know the answer to 'What does an ER nurse do?' you may want to know what the job market is like for nurses. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 12% rise in nursing positions through the end of 2028, a growth rate considered much faster than the national average. This could result in as many as 371,500 new nursing jobs, including ER nurses. The BLS believes that growth will be encouraged by the increasing demand to care for an aging population.

Salary Information for ER Nurses

The median annual salary for a registered nurse, including those in emergency rooms, was $71,730 in May 2018, according to BLS data. Registered nurses who worked in the government sector earned median salaries of $78,390, while those in state, local, and private hospitals earned $73,650.

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