Emergency Room Nurse

What Is an Emergency Room Nurse?

Emergency room (ER) nurses are healthcare professionals who focus on caring for patients who are experiencing medical crises that require fast medical intervention to avoid long-term disabilities and/or death. These nurses must be able to think and act quickly, be proficient in multitasking, and be able to keep a cool head under stressful situations where the stakes are high. The vast majority of emergency room nurses work with people across all ages, and from all kinds of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. Common illnesses and injuries that these nurses will encounter include broken bones, heart attacks, strokes, drug overdoses, poisonings, mental breakdowns, car accidents, dangerously high fevers, stab or gunshot wounds, and much more. Those who are best suited for the role of emergency room nurse are emotionally grounded individuals who appreciate a fast pace.

What Are Some Emergency Room Nurse Duties?

ER nurses enjoy a wide variety of daily tasks, to include:

  • Working alongside ER staff to ensure optimal performance and medical outcomes
  • Starting intravenous lines
  • Triage - prioritize patient care according to need, available staff, and acuity
  • Administering medication and help manage pain
  • Collecting and documenting patient charts
  • Quickly identifying patient issues and acting swiftly to implement necessary interventions
  • Setting broken bones
  • Advising patients, family members, and caregivers
  • Assessing patients' response to medical interventions while recording any changes observed
  • Conducting cardiopulmonary resuscitation, rescue breathing, or bag-valve-mask ventilation
  • Mentoring clinical and support staff
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of emergency medicine as well as nursing theory and skills
  • Maintaining a professional code of ethics

Where Do Emergency Room Nurses Work?

While called "ER" nurses, this type of nurse can find employment in any setting that delivers emergency care, including:

  • Hospital emergency rooms
  • Urgent care centers
  • Trauma centers
  • Triage centers
  • Sports arenas
  • Private ambulance companies
  • Emergency transport helicopters
  • Government or military contractors

How to Become an Emergency Room Nurse

After you've decided that a career as an emergency room nurse is for you - like other nursing positions - you'll first need to earn an RN degree from an accredited college or university and become licensed. Before you're eligible to sit for the Certified Emergency Nurse examination, you'll be required to practice as a traditional RN in an emergency room or critical care setting for a few years. Not every employer will demand that you hold a certification, but it is highly recommended, as it will give you a clear competitive edge over other potential employees.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Becoming an emergency room nurse means completing the following educational requirements:

  • Hold an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN prelicensure exam
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license

Do Emergency Room Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, emergency room nurses are required to hold an active and unrestricted RN license at the very least, as they must hold a wide variety of skills and have the ability to make quick and accurate decisions.

Step 2: Required Emergency Room Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Although it isn't explicitly required for nurses to be Certified Emergency Nurses in order to work in an emergency room or critical care setting, it is preferred by many employers.

Emergency room nurse aspirants who would like to be as competitive as possible can gain the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential - a nationally accepted certification for ER nurses - which can be acquired through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.

To be eligible to take the CEN certification exam, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Have an undergraduate degree in nursing (i.e. ADN or BSN)
  • Hold an active an unencumbered RN license
  • Have at least two years of experience working as an RN in an emergency room or critical care setting

Emergency Room Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

The role of the emergency room nurse is one of the most important in the entire nursing field. While it may be stressful and demanding, it can also be one of the most emotionally fulfilling and rewarding specialties in the broader nursing field.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed -Ability to remain calm amid chaos, well-developed emotional coping skills, physical strength, ability to multitask, effective communication skills, teamwork, leadership, extroversion, critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of RN employment opportunities will increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024. Since emergency room nurses comprise a considerable portion of all registered nurses, it's quite likely that job openings within the specialty will grow at a comparable rate.

What Is the Average Salary of an Emergency Room Nurse?

According to PayScale.com, the average yearly salary for emergency room nurses is roughly $65,503. Factors that will play into the earning potential of an ER nurse include things like employer, location, experience and education level, credentials, and more. The contents of an emergency nurse's employee benefits packages will also vary, but most who are employed full-time can expect to receive medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage. An allotment of paid-time off and/or sick leave is also generally included - usually about two to four weeks. Retirement plans and life insurance options may also be available.

How Much Do Emergency Room Nurses Make per Year?

  • $45,000 – $95,000 annually

How Much Do Emergency Room Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $30.68 median hourly wage

Emergency Room Nurse Resources