While many emergency nursing skills are taught in a classroom, other ER nursing skills can only be developed in the emergency room while on the clock. Being an emergency room nurse takes an incredible amount of skills and training, as it’s a fast-paced, high-stress environment. While schooling helps in the development of skills, some emergency room nursing skills come only with experience. However, the calm can be shattered by the simultaneous arrival of several patients as patients will come to you with broken bones, open wounds, debilitating diseases, among others. ER nurses must have the skills to deal with such situations.
What do emergency nurses do?
ER nurses treat patients who are suffering from trauma, injury, or severe medical conditions and require urgent treatment. Since these specialists work in crisis situations, they must be able to quickly identify the best way to stabilize patients and minimize pain.
What are the qualities of a successful emergency nurse?
- Handling crisis situations
Patients who come to an emergency room may be in life-or-death situations. The ER nurse must be able to make an immediate assessment of critical conditions such as a heart attack, gunshot wound, or ruptured aneurysm. She must be able to move quickly but still take time to reassure the frightened patient. Resuscitation scenes can be extremely chaotic; an ER nurse must be able to remain calm and focused despite turmoil and noise around her.
- Attention to detail
A nurse’s actions on the job can have far-reaching consequences. Whether you’re a family nurse practitioner or nurse-midwife, even the smallest mistake may have tragic results; therefore, strict attention to detail must be second nature for a nurse.
Flexibility is a key skill for an ER nurse. Patients’ needs can change quickly and the nurse must be able to respond immediately to those changes. The ER nurse may need to accompany a ventilator patient to X-ray, then come back and change a baby’s diaper or start an intravenous line on an older woman with fragile veins. The mix of patients in the ER can also change from minute to minute. The nurse must keep all the changes straight to prevent medication errors and other problems.
- Clinical skills
ER nurses need excellent clinical skills. They must perform their duties swiftly and efficiently to prevent delays in care to protect their patients and practice. The ER nurse should have the technical skills to perform treatments and therapies, manage complex machinery, and immediately recognize important changes in a patient’s condition. Patient assessment is another vitally important skill for ER nurses. ER nurses must know how to interpret lab and other diagnostic information in relation to the patient’s condition and the plan of care.
- Interpersonal skills
The emergency room is a place where people who are frightened or in pain need comfort and support. ER nurses need excellent interpersonal skills to calm patients, deal with an agitated family member, or communicate with people who may not speak much, if any, English. An ER nurse should understand the basic principles of good customer service, but also must be able to stand her ground with an aggressive patient or family member. A sense of humor is also helpful.
Physical stamina is a useful quality for an ER nurse. A confused patient may need to be physically restrained by the nurse until he can be sedated. Many nursing tasks require the nurse to bend, stoop, crouch, or stand in uncomfortable positions for a long time. ER nurses must also spend much of their working day on their feet, and they lift patients from gurneys to beds, or they must move heavy equipment. An ER nurse who is in a good physical condition is less likely to suffer a work-related injury or to become exhausted by the end of the shift.
What are the top most common ER diagnoses?
Emergency nurses encounter many conditions with varying degrees of severity—ailments range anywhere from a sore throat to a heart attack. According to data from Definitive Healthcare’s hospitals and IDNs platform using all-payor claims data from CY 2017, the top-five reasons with estimated ER visits were*:
- Chest Pain- 4,346,349
- Upper-respiratory infections- 2,504,641
- Urinary tract infection- 1,485,188
- Headache- 1,346,546
- Abdominal pain- 1,300,583
Where do emergency nurses work?
The majority of emergency nurses work in the emergency departments of hospitals or medical clinics, but there are a few other work environments you may not have guessed for this nursing specialty.
How do you become an emergency nurse?
The first step is simple: you must become a registered nurse (RN) by obtaining either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both roads lead to an RN career, but you’ll have to decide whether an ADN or a BSN is best for your own career aspirations. Once you have your Nursing degree in hand, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before working as a registered nurse.
After becoming a fully licensed RN, you can begin working toward a specialty in emergency nursing. Gaining experience in emergency medical situations will be key. Try working as a floating nurse in your hospital’s emergency room or assisting teams of paramedics to acquire applicable experience.
After earning a minimum of two years of related emergency experience, you can also apply to earn a certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). This credential isn’t required to land employment as an emergency nurse, but it could give you an edge on other candidates.
Watch the following video to know how to become an emergency room nurse
Are nurses in demand?
Nursing is one of the most demanding careers to go into, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. According to an article in the American Nurses Association, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 1.1 million additional nurses are needed to avoid a further shortage. Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to grow at a faster rate (15%) than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.
Getting back into the rhythm
Whether you’re looking for a quick update of your skillset or you’re making the brave leap back into nursing after some time away, brushing up on your ER skills is necessary to build a strong foundation. The emergency room is one of the most high-stress environments you can work in as a nurse, and sometimes the only way to shake the nerves off is to jump back into the rhythm of things. For all you nurses heading back into the ER, good luck and stay tough!
“Nurse: just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone.”