If you’ve ever worked a shift in an emergency room (ER), then you know the light hum of ventilation units, the rhythmic beep of a patient’s vital signs, and the echoes of pacing footsteps. While the beeps, buzzes, and hums of the emergency room may spook some, they’re just the comforting sounds of another day for an ER RN.
The role of ER nurses
Registered nurses (RNs) are the superheroes of healthcare. Instead of laser eyes and superhuman strength, nurses have the power to treat trauma patients and heal wounds, and ER RNs do so in emergency departments.
With an average of 135 million patient visits in a U.S. emergency room on a given year, ER RNs—or trauma nurses—stay busy. In fact, the 10 most common reasons patients visit a hospital emergency room are:
- Chest pains
- Abdominal pains
- Broken bones and sprains
- Upper respiratory infections
- Contusions and cuts
- Back pain
- Skin infections
- Foreign objects in the body
When a patient enters the ER, it’s up to the ER nurse to check-in the patient and take note of the severity of the injury or ailment. Then, not only do they perform triage to prioritize patient care, but ER RNs also identify patient health problems, administer treatments and medications, record changes in patient health, explain treatment and care to patients and families, and more.
Sure, ER RNs work in emergency rooms, but there can be a variation in emergency departments depending on where you’re working and what resources are available. As an emergency nurse, the most common settings in the U.S. are:
- Critical access: Remote settings with scarce resources available.
- Rural areas: Moderately remote areas that have resources available nearby via road or air.
- Community settings: Mid-size cities with a moderate number of resources.
- Urban areas: Major metropolitan areas, such as big cities, that typically have a plethora of resources available.
- Teaching hospital: Large healthcare facility associated with a university that has many resources.
- Stand-alone emergency department: These ERs are only available in certain states and they’re emergency rooms that aren’t physically connected with a hospital.
- Disaster settings: Extreme environments after a disaster with few resources that is often accompanied by federal or military response programs.
Just like Batman or Captain America, ER RNs are heroes who work tirelessly to provide life-saving care for their community, no matter where they are.
What specialties are available for emergency nurses?
Not only do ER RNs work in a variety of healthcare settings, but they also practice a diverse number of nursing specialties. Because the job is so extensive, most emergency nurses will take on multiple roles over the course of their nursing careers, so it’s important for you to explore the many specialties ER nursing has to offer:
- Trauma nurse: These healthcare professionals run the show when trauma patients arrive in the emergency room by ambulance, helicopter, or personal vehicle. Specialized training and two years of experience is typically required in order to specialize in trauma patients.
- Code nurse: Code RNs oversee the code rooms where the most critically ill patients stay in emergency departments.
- Triage nurse: Patients need to be seen based on severity, and that’s exactly what triage nurses are responsible for. They sort patients based on complaint, vital signs, and resources needed to determine who’s seen first.
- Disaster response or emergency preparedness RN: All ER RNs are first responders during a disaster, but these special nurses are in charge of ensuring your department is always up to date on their disaster response plans and policies.
- Critical-care transport (CCT) nurse: Just as the title suggests, CCT RNs are responsible for transporting critical care patients from one facility or another. Typically, they work out of an ambulance, but flight RNs work out of helicopters and planes to transport the critically injured and ill.
- Pediatric ER RN: Pediatric RNs work in healthcare facilities that provide most of their services to patients 18 years old or younger.
- Burn center nurse: ER RNs who work in burn centers are specially trained in burn victim resuscitation and care.
- Geriatric ER RN: Nurses in geriatric care receive training on the specific care required by elderly patients.
- Military nurse: Emergency nurses in the military are medically trained to practice in military hospitals, clinics, and/or combat zones. A nurse must be enlisted in a U.S. military branch in order to be considered for a military nurse position.
Regardless of your nursing specialization, RNs make a huge difference in people’s lives with every shift. If you’re into action, the unexpected, and making a positive impact, ER nursing may be the job for you.
What’s the job outlook for ER RNs?
So now you may be wondering, “What does the future hold for ER RNs?” In short: A lot.
Because of the nationwide nursing shortage, there’s a wild demand for RNs, including ER RNs. Now, with more than 20 percent of the American population reaching retirement age and beyond, in addition to a widespread spike in chronic conditions, ER RNs are highly in demand. And with a large population of Americans hitting retirement age in the same span of time, there will be thousands of new ER RN job openings that will need to be filled.
In 2019 alone, there were more than 3 million RNs in the U.S. and by 2029, it’s expected more than 220,000 nurses will be needed. So, get your scrubs and stethoscopes ready, because you’re in need now more than ever.
Find ER travel jobs through Fusion Marketplace
Thankfully, Fusion Marketplace is here to make it easy for you to find your next ER travel job. By giving you the power to search for healthcare jobs across multiple staffing agencies, U.S. locations, and healthcare specialties all in one place, Fusion Marketplace puts you in full control of your career.
Through enhanced transparency and traveler support, Marketplace simplifies the most difficult part of finding a healthcare job—the job search itself. With a few swift clicks, you can create your traveler profile, set your travel job preferences, secure temporary housing, and read/leave recruiter ratings and reviews. Finding a nursing job has never been easier.
They might not wear capes or have the power to physically fly, but nurses are still superheroes—and ER RNs fall under that umbrella. As Americans age, retire, and experience more chronic conditions, more emergency room nurses will be needed. Fusion Marketplace uses enhanced job and pay transparency to give you all the details upfront and help you make your next career move.