How to Become an Emergency Department Manager

Aug 14, 2018

Learn how to become an emergency department manager. Research the education, career requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in emergency department management.

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  • 0:00 Emergency Department Manager
  • 0:57 Earn an RN License
  • 2:05 Gain Experience
  • 2:55 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 3:28 Earn a Master's Degree

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Emergency Department Manager

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's sometimes preferred
Degree Field Nursing
Licensure and Certification RN licensure and CPR certification required
Experience 3-5 years of experience in the field
Key Skills Strong organizational and verbal/written communication skills; familiarity with patient data software
Salary (2014) $106,070 (2015 median for all medical and health services managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Emergency department managers are responsible for the clinical and administrative efficiency of an emergency care department. They facilitate communication between clinical personnel and ensure that patient records are managed properly - all within the parameters of a budget.

Though emergency department managers are trained as nurses, their focus on administrative duties means they spend most of their time in an office environment rather than dealing with patients. Emergency department managers need strong verbal and written communication skills, organizational skills, and familiarity with patient data software.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that all medical and health services managers - including emergency department managers - earned a mean annual salary of $106,070 as of May 2015.

Let's explore the steps to become an emergency department manager.

Step 1: Earn an RN License

Nursing licenses are issued by a state licensing board. Earning a registered nurse (RN) license requires that individuals complete an accredited RN training program, successfully pass the NCLEX-RN, and meet any additional criteria required by the state. A 2-year associate's program can prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN. Coursework typically includes anatomy and physiology, microbiology and techniques in nursing such as drawing blood, administering medication and assisting in surgery. Some students choose to earn an associate's degree, gain work experience and then earn a bachelor's degree, while others decide to pursue a 4-year bachelor's degree and then earn their RN license.

While pursuing a nursing degree, students also might opt to take certification courses. Nurses generally are required to be certified in emergency care and life saving techniques such as CPR. Additional courses in trauma care may give students a competitive advantage.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Employers prefer that candidates for emergency department management positions have at least 3-5 years of experience that includes trauma or emergency care and leadership experience. After getting an RN license, nurses can find employment in an emergency department where they'll participate in patient care related to triage and obstetrics, among other areas. Nurses can apply techniques learned in nursing school and also take the opportunity to sharpen their decision-making and critical thinking skills. They may also have the opportunity to complete additional training related to emergency care.

Nurses gain leadership experience as they gain more responsibility. Positions such as an assistant unit manager offer nurses the opportunity to manage staff and exercise managerial judgment.

Step 3: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Employers prefer that emergency department managers have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or are actively pursuing the degree. Some hospitals provide tuition reimbursement to pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing through an RN-to-BSN program. These programs might include courses in health assessment, leadership and information technology. Since these programs are often designed for working nurses, they typically have flexible schedules and might be offered online.

Step 4: Earn a Master's Degree

A master's degree is not required for emergency department managers, but may be preferred by some employers. Registered nurses seeking to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can find RN-to-MSN programs as well as programs for nurses with a bachelor's degree. Students can choose from tracks that offer high-level instruction in specialized areas of nursing, such as clinical nurse specialist or pediatrics. Alternately, students can choose a track that focuses on leadership and management.

In summary, an emergency department manager typically needs a bachelor of science in nursing and licensure as a registered nurse, along with 3-5 years' experience working in an emergency department. Some employers prefer emergency department managers who hold a master of science in nursing.

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