Action and emergency situations are what trauma nurses live for. Trauma nursing, as a discipline, covers the content and process of all the various roles nurses assume when caring for a trauma patient. The title “trauma nurse” is given to nurses working in emergency wards and other hospital locations dealing with heavy situations. The common tasks of trauma nurses are to handle minor and acute problems, prepare patients for an emergency operation, and assist surgeons during an operation.
Landing a job as a trauma nurse is quite similar to the path of most nursing jobs, but a trauma nurse may need to acquire additional education to ensure eligibility for the position. This type of nursing position is extremely demanding, requiring a good deal of dedication and attention to work functionally. In the end, it is a very rewarding position, but only if the nurse can cope with the demands and stress that comes along with the title.
Accidents are inevitable - a person, at some point, will experience physical injury or illness. Trauma nurses are well-trained and well-versed registered nurses rendering care to patients suffering from different injuries, many are serious and life-threatening injuries.
Trauma nurses are thoroughly trained in emergency care - focusing on serious medical conditions. You can find these nurses working in emergency rooms, critical care units, and as part of an emergency flight team where they alleviate a patient's condition by providing proper medical intervention. They usually aid patients with serious injuries such as heart attacks, stroke, suicide attempts, car accidents, and other injuries related to work. Further, trauma nurses work carefully to stabilize a trauma victim and prevent secondary complications, such as respiratory distress, shock, or even death.
Nurses must be highly qualified before becoming a trauma nurse - proper training is a requirement. To land an entry-level position, you will need at least a two-year nursing degree (associate degree). Acquiring an entry-level job as a registered nurse will give you an edge when starting out your career, only a few entry-level job RNs exist in trauma units. You need to have an experience in special areas such as intensive care nursing, before one can secure employment in a trauma unit.
You will need to complete courses in physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, health promotion, ethics, and risk reductions. When applying for emergency nursing certification, you are required to have at least two years of experience in emergency nursing prior to application for certification exam. Once you obtained the required clinical experience, apply for an emergency nursing certification from the BCEN (Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. Take your Trauma Nursing Core Course from the ENA (Emergency Nurses Association).
Just to add, you can get certification in pediatric emergency (CPEN), flight (CFRN), emergency (CEN), and critical care ground transport (CTRN) nursing. As for the recertification, it is done every several years, although this depends on your state rules. You can obtain recertification by completing continuing education or retaking the exam.
Job Description & Duties
The nursing profession is becoming more demanding, and there are many new patient needs and challenges requiring specialized care. Having said this, there is also a huge need for nurses with advanced training.
In the case of emergency nursing, trauma nurses should be prepared to provide specific and careful nursing interventions when in emergency settings. The nature of this job can be chaotic and very stressful—the shifting work schedule is not always ideal and the work hours can be stressful because emergency situations can happen anytime.
As a trauma nurse, he or she should quickly adapt and get used to the terrible medical injuries commonly encountered inside an emergency room. They must be quick to respond to the patients’ needs and offer medical intervention. Trauma nurses are the first line of health care professionals to attend to seriously injured patients. A trauma nurse immediately should triage the patient and evaluate the degree of injury or the extent of patient’s need for prioritization. He should be very organized and calm in times of emergency situations.
A trauma nurse will have to provide different kinds of emergency medical procedures, such as IV insertion, intubation, administration of medicine or drugs, monitoring, and even drawing blood. They should monitor carefully and watch out for any changes. Preparing a patient for surgery or diagnostic testing is also part of their role.
Job Outlook and Salary
Trauma nurses are usually well compensated for their jobs, quite reasonable given the nature of their job and the amount of effort the position demands. The common annual salary of trauma nurses is between $60,000 and $90,000, excluding the extra benefits and bonuses that the job may include. Working hours appear to be inflexible and unattractive; however, many trauma nurses express satisfaction with their work.
Concerning career outlook, all registered nurses will increase at a faster rate as compared to other professions. In 2016, growth rate will rise up to 23%. Because of such high demands, trauma nurses will constantly have job security.
References and Further Reading
- Emergency Nurses Association (www.ena.org)
- Society of Trauma Nurses (www.traumanurses.org)
- Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association (www.astna.org)