What Does an Emergency Nurse Do?
Emergency nurses provide medical care for patients in the critical or emergency phase of their illness, trauma or injury. They must work quickly and efficiently and be able to recognize life threatening problems and subsequent solutions without hesitation. Emergency nurses must possess both general and specific medical expertise as they encounter a wide variety of conditions ranging from sore throats to broken bones to heart attacks for patients of all ages, races, genders and medical backgrounds. They can work in hospital emergency rooms, ambulances, helicopters, urgent care centers, sports arenas and any other place a person could encounter an emergency medical condition. Working in an emergency setting can be grueling, as those nurses are dealing with patients where the diagnosis has not yet been made and the problem is still unclear. Their main goals are to stabilize the patients, minimize pain and uncover the medical condition as quickly as possible. Some emergency nurses also take on the role of educator, informing the public about injury and illness prevention.
How Can I Become an Emergency Nurse?
To become an emergency nurse, on must first become a registered nurse. This requires a student to earn a nursing degree via a two or four year program. After successfully completing school, students must then pass the state certification exam which allows them to practice medicine legally as a licensed registered nurse. Following this, a registered nurse can take a certification exam administered via the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN), which is a division of the Emergency Nurses’ Association. The exam is given in testing center across the nation, consists of 175 questions and generally takes three hours to complete. While it is not required, the BCEN recommends that registered nurses possess around two years of emergency nursing experience prior to taking the exam. Nurses that earn certification must complete a set number of continued education hours in order to remain certified. This ensures they are continually up to date on the latest medical technologies and research.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for an Emergency Nurse?
The average base salary for emergency nurses is around $50,000-$60,000 per year but can vary according to geographic location, hiring facility and education. Emergency nurses also have the option to work as administrators, managers, researchers and educators that provide emergency medical information to the public. The longer an emergency nurse stays in the field, the more responsibility they will earn, the more patients they will see and the higher pay grade they can receive. Because the nursing field is expected to grow rapidly in the next several years and the nation is currently facing a nursing shortage, the career outlook for emergency nursing is very positive. One of the downsides to working in this discipline is the extremely fast paced environment and the responsibility of making decisions quickly without hesitating. This can often be too daunting of a task for some. Conversely, emergency nurses often believe that the energy and the variety of conditions and patients they treat is one of the main advantages of the job.