Trauma nurses, also known as emergency nurses, are nursing professionals who specialize in caring for patients who have suffered from an acute injury or illness and who may be in critical condition. These nurses can be found working in emergency rooms, intensive care units (ICUs), and trauma centers. They deal with trauma cases including motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds, head injuries, and injuries from assault.
Trauma nurses work wherever patients with critical conditions are treated. Common workplace environments include:
Trauma nurses must deal with life-and-death situations regularly, and therefore hold a large amount of responsibility. Becoming a trauma nurse will take a mixture of nursing education, clinical experience, and the desire to enter the fast-paced, sometimes stressful world of caring for trauma patients. Many trauma nurses get a sense of fulfillment and pride from caring for these critical patients.
Like many jobs, those with higher degrees generally have more opportunities for career advancement. Trauma nurses, at the very least, should have earned their associate's degree in nursing (ADN). However, those who have earned their Bachelor's in Nursing Science (BSN) will find themselves more desirable to potential employers. After becoming licensed as an RN, nurses will need to gain some experience in the field of emergency nursing and enroll in a certain number of hours of continuing education in trauma nursing before they are awarded a certification as a Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN).
Like other nursing specialties inside of the United States, trauma nurses must first become licensed as registered nurses (RNs) before they're certified in critical care as trauma nurses. Due to the fast-paced and critical nature of this specialty, a BSN or higher may be required or preferred.
Common credentials and/or certifications of a trauma nurse include:
Additional certifications and training courses for trauma nurses:
For more information on the certification process for Trauma Certified Registered Nurses (TCRN) through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN), visit the BCEN website.
Because it takes a unique set of skills to be a successful trauma nurse, most TCRNs will not have any difficulty finding employment in the field.
As reported by PayScale, trauma nurses earn annual salaries of around $63,575 depending on the specific organization that they work for. Salaries will vary widely and will depend on whether the trauma nurse works as a staff nurse, nurse manager, nurse supervisor, or emergency room director. Other factors which determine how much a TCRN makes is the city or state that they're working in and the degrees and certifications that they hold. The benefits that TCRNs will receive will also depend on their employer. Most TCRNs who are employed full-time will receive comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage along with some paid time off each year.