JAANUU » What’s It Like Being an ER Nurse & How Do You Become One?

What’s It Like Being an ER Nurse & How Do You Become One?

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Do your friends know you as the one who keeps calm under pressure? Does it seem like you always know what to do in worst-case scenarios? If so, and if you haven’t already chosen a career path, perhaps becoming an ER nurse is right up your alley.

Obviously, as is with any healthcare career, studying and getting in clinical hours is a major time investment (and an emotional one, too). So before you jump in, you’ll want to learn more about how to become an ER nurse, along with the salary, required certifications, and other concerns for working in the emergency room. 

We think that’s smart. And we’re here to help you figure it all out. 

We’re also here to keep you looking great along the way. Consider us your support system as you contemplate delving into this challenging but rewarding line of work. 

Let’s start off by answering the question, “What do nurses do in the ER?” 

What is an ER nurse? 

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An ER nurse works directly with trauma patients. That may include providing critical care to individuals suffering from injuries and other severe conditions who need urgent help and are in a crisis situation. 

That means that ER nurses are always on their feet, responding quickly to extreme situations. They must be able to stay calm under pressure and react quickly, correctly and efficiently to treat their patients.

But that’s not to say every day on the job will be on par with one of the more dramatic episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Believe it or not, you’re sure to have some regular, more mundane shifts too. 

What do emergency room nurses do?

Emergency room nurses react to a wide variety of situations, and there will certainly be surprises along the way. But, here are a few of the most common tasks assigned to ER nurses: 

  • Triaging
  • Maintaining patients stable
  • Treating wounds 
  • Taking blood 
  • Setting up IVs
  • Performing some basic medical procedures 
  • Administering meds 
  • Moving patients from one area to another 
  • Working on patients’ records

What are the roles and duties of an emergency room nurse?

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There are job tasks, and then there are job roles and responsibilities. And ER nurses have very important roles and responsibilities. 

ER nurses are in charge of making patient care plans, which means they have to assess situations and develop solutions quickly. That can include everything from charting vital signs to giving blood transfusions, and every second counts in severe situations—so the responsibility on an ER nurse is high.

But with great responsibility comes great reward. For ER nurses, that means helping save lives and keeping their patients safe. 

Where do emergency nurses work?

While most ER nurses work in (surprise!) emergency rooms, there are other environments in which you’ll also find them. 

For example, they can also work on film sets, airplanes, cruise ships and search and rescue teams. Exciting stuff? We like to think so, especially when it means helping others stay safe and healthy. 

Sounds too much like “life in the fast lane” for you? ER nurses also work in schools and walk-in clinics if you’re looking for a slightly slower pace.

What are the requirements for becoming an emergency nurse?

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Time to delve into the details: If you think this career is for you, it’s time to hit the books and consider the ER nurse requirements you’ll need to obtain. 

First, you’ll need to become a registered nurse (RN). Then you’ll need to specialize in emergency care. To become a registered nurse, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. 

To prepare for your licensure, you will need to obtain an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). These nursing degrees take several years to earn (up to four, usually), and afterward, you’ll need to get certified and do an internship. Certification usually involves passing an exam and then putting in some hours before getting your Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) certification and other similar ones.  

What are the qualities of a successful emergency nurse?

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As you’ve likely gathered, working in the emergency room isn’t easy. A lot is going on, and you need to react quickly. So, as with any variety of nursing, some key qualities will help you succeed in the role. Here’s are some of the top points

  • A solid background. It may sound obvious, but you need to know what you’re doing. So, getting the right education is key, as is getting into the right mindset to work long hours, see difficult cases and react as quickly as possible. 
  • Flexibility: Since you’ll be working in a high-stress environment, you’ll need to react quickly and assertively. This will mean changing gears without hesitation and seamlessly from one patient to the next, with the confidence to move agilely between treatment plans. This is an important part of life as an ER nurse, and it’s important to consider before continuing down this career path. 
  • Skills: This point goes hand-in-hand with the first, but you will need to be able to work with specialized machines, be on the lookout for important changes in conditions and assess lab work. 
  • Ability to be calm but definitive: A calm but assertive attitude is everything in this line of work. You are likely to be in a high-tension environment, where you will often need to advocate for patients. 

What is the salary for an ER nurse?

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“Cash is king,” or so the saying goes. Even so, we know that you’re not going into this line of work for just the money. You know just as well as we do, nursing is more than a career. It’s a calling. But that’s not to say your salary doesn’t matter, so there’s no shame in talking about money here. On average, ER nurses earn $78,598 annually, though the pay may vary by state.

If you do decide to become an ER nurse, consider us your No. 1 fan. We’ll be here to provide you with everything you need, from premium fashionable scrubs that keep you looking good on the job to helpful information and support.

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