Emergency Room Nurse

Emergency Room NurseEmergency room nurses specialize in caring for people who experience a  medical crisis due to illness or injury. Emergency room nursing is a nursing specialty area.  While most ER nurses work in emergency rooms, some provide care in community settings and for the military. Most emergency room nurses work with people of all ages , however  large medical centers and pediatric hospitals employ nurses who are specially trained to work with children. Of all nursing fields, emergency room nursing affords nurses the widest variety of experiences treating a vast array of people and health care conditions.

Emergency room nurses rapidly assess patient needs. They triage patient care depending upon patient needs. Emergency room nursing is challenging as nurses need to act quickly in life and death situations. Nurses must be proficient working with  patients and families in crisis. They are faced with raw emotions and physical trauma. In addition to caring for people with true emergencies, emergency room nurses care for people who are uninsured that utilize the emergency room as their main source of healthcare. 

Emergency room nurses are exposed to stress in a different way than nurses who provide care in other branches of nursing. The stress that emergency room nurses experience is due to the emergent nature of the work and exposure to graphic trauma. Witnessing abuse and suicide attempts is very difficult. As a result, emergency room staff members are often among the most "tight knit" of all health care teams. They provide emotional support to each other. Much camaraderie is often present.

Education Requirements

Most emergency room nurses are registered nurses with special training in providing emergency care.

The majority of emergency room nurses do not begin their nursing career in the emergency room unless they have prior experience as Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedics.

Orientation of nurses new to the emergency room is extensive and longer than for many other specialty areas. Nurse practitioners may be employed as specialists in emergency nursing.

Emergency Room nurses need to be certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Life Support. Certification as a Trauma Nurse is required as well. Emergency Nurses seeking certification as specialists may take the Certified Emergency Nurse Exam.

Job Description & Duties

Emergency room nurses never have two days which are alike. They care for patients with medical illnesses including strokes and myocardial infarctions. Emergency nurses care for people suffering with traumatic injuries. The patient population is diverse. A nurse may care for a mentally ill person in crisis or a young person suffering from a drug overdose. Emergency room nurses provide care to abused children and babies with ear infections.
Some nurses in large medical centers specialize in providing care to trauma victims. Other emergency nurses join medical center helicopter flight teams which transport critically ill people. Emergency room nurses work as a team with emergency physicians, respiratory therapy, radiology, and laboratory staff members to rapidly evaluate symptoms and provide care using the nursing process.

Emergency room nurses provide care in disaster situations when mass casualties are present. Their assessment skills must be rapid and excellent when prioritizing care needs of large numbers of patients simultaneously.

Emergency room nurses must possess expertise about a wide array of diseases and injuries. Nurses provide education to patient and family members regarding follow-up care of minor and serious conditions.

Many emergency room nurses are employed or volunteer with local organizations. They may offer services as members of an ambulance crew, or teach first aid and CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) classes.



Job Outlook and Salary

The occupational outlook for emergency room nurses is excellent. Emergency room nurses are consistently one of the branches of nursing that are always in demand. Getting started in emergency nursing can be challenging, however once a nurse gains emergency nursing experience, the job outlook is excellent. In addition to hospitals, emergency room nurses are employed by outpatient walk in health clinics.

Nurses who enjoy working as travel nurses, often find employment in the field of emergency nursing. Salaries for emergency room nurses range upwards from $22 to more than $50 dollars weekly. Large medical centers generally pay higher rates than community hospitals. Certifications in different aspects of emergency nursing can add several dollars per hour to a nurse's base salary.

Emergency room nursing is expected to be one of the fastest  growing professions especially in communities with a high proportion of elderly residents.


For information about certification, continuing education opportunities, and employment for emergency room nurses contact the following;

Written by

Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG

Patricia has been a Registered Nurse for almost forty years in a wide variety of settings. As a Registered Nurse, she realized that conventional healthcare was not meeting [...]