How Do You Become an Emergency Room Nurse?

When someone wants to become an emergency room nurse, they often do so because they want to help patients and save lives. Emergency room nurses are integral members of important medical teams who assist patients experiencing traumatic injuries and sudden illnesses. These nurses may work in fast-paced and stressful environments, but they have one of the most rewarding careers available in the medical field.

Get a Formal Education

There are different academic options to become an emergency room nurse. Medical students need to either earn a two-year associate degree or four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing. There are also accelerated programs for working health care professionals to quickly learn the management skills and advanced nursing theories needed to succeed as emergency room nurses. These programs prepare graduates to excel in challenging health care environments as leaders and ethical decision makers. Students learn effective patient assessment, treatment and communication strategies. They also learn about research statistical methods, evidence-based practices and clinical practice innovations. There many other topics learned, such as bioethics, health care economics and population-centered health programs.

Get Certified

After completion of an accredited nursing program, students must prepare to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLE-RN). Most states require RNs to obtain certification in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support and trauma nursing core course, according to the American Heart Association. Depending on the employer and scope of duties, emergency room nurses may be required to obtain pediatric advanced life support techniques or certifications in phlebotomy and advanced cardiac monitoring. Many RNs seek voluntary certification in emergency room care by passing the Emergency Nurses Association’s Certified Emergency Nurse exam or the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing’s Certified Emergency Nurse exam. These exams focus on the nursing skills required to handle a variety of emergency room situations, such as wound, respiratory, neurological and substance abuse emergencies.

Get an Emergency Room Job

Emergency Room RNs provide direct patient care in line with standard nursing assessment to patients experiencing a variety of medical conditions and surgical operations. They treat ER patients with life-threatening conditions through collaborating with emergency medical providers and performing comprehensive treatments. They assess incoming patient’s condition based upon observations, interviews, diagnostic data and health care histories. They carefully document all aspects of emergency care and provide patients and family members with relevant updates and instructions regarding treatments and procedures. Emergency room nurses must have perfect attention to detail and decision making skills.

Get a Graduate Education

Many emergency room nurses choose to broaden their skills and competencies through enrolling in master degree programs for emergency room nurses. Most nursing schools require a bachelor’s degree and a few years of experience as an RN in an emergency setting. Graduate level emergency room nursing programs include courses on advanced physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics. There are also classes on the scientific and research foundations of advanced nursing practices. Students learn sophisticated health assessment, clinical reasoning and evidence integration techniques. These programs usually conclude with an on-site practicum and capstone project. There are full-time, on-campus classes as well as part-time and hybrid options, many of which are available online.

Related Resource: Doctor of Nursing Practice

In order to permanently become an emergency room nurse, RNs will have to maintain RN licensure and certifications, both of which require continuing education credits.