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What happens in your day to day life?

what is included in the day to day life of an ER nurse? I have had an interest in this field for a while now and just want some details to go by. #ernurse #nurse #nursing #medicine #healthcare #hospital-and-healthcare


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Dr. Valerie’s Answer

Emergency Room nurses are Registered Nurses who have specialized in Emergency Room/Trauma nursing care. This is often achieved after working in a general medical-surgical area first. The types of patients that are treated in an ER may vary by location. It is not all trauma. Many patients are there for acute needs and go to an ER because they do not have access to a primary care provider. By law, an ER must treat the patient. This means the Registered Nurse must have a wide understanding of nursing care for all ages (infants to elderly). As a RN you are assigned to a certain number of rooms/patients. You work with the provider and other healthcare team to assess, diagnose and treat the patient. Or you could be assigned to triage the patients coming in for how urgently they need to be seen—ERs do not work on a first come, first served basis. How busy a shift is varies! You will need further knowledge in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and Trauma Nursing Core Course to name a few.

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David’s Answer

Great question! To add to what Dr. Morrison explained, the day in the life of an ER nurse is anything but predicable and normal. The ER typically is the gate to hospital admissions, so you can and will deal with every type of patient to include cancer patients, stroke patients, heart attack victims and surgical emergencies. Yes, as you see on TV shows, you will see trauma patients but some ER's specialize in other specialties such as being a Chest Pain Center or Stroke Center. Depending on whether the ER is an inner city ER or a Community Hospital ER will the type of population you will mostly treat. Furthermore, as evident with the Covoid-19 crisis, ER's are usually the initial response centers for a number of catastrophes, whether it is biological, hurricanes and tornadoes, or mass casualty situations. That can be intense if you include all the normal ER visits that will occur but ER's are trained to handle it, and they do.

If you work in a large ER, there may be specialty units within the ER. They could include trauma units, Clinical Decision Units, Psych units , Pre-Admit Units and Urgent Care Units to name a few. In any given week you could be assigned to one or multiple units.

Although it may sound scary and you are required to have a basic nursing knowledge base, ER Nursing is very much a team approach, you have help if needed. Being centered, grounded and having good technical skills and critical thinking skills is essentials. Priorities can change in a moments notice. So taking good care of yourself is just as important. That would be a great practice to initiate now in order to be a strong healer, no matter your role in Nursing.

If you are really interested in ER Nursing, I do have a couple of suggestions. If you are in High School and if your school has a Health Occupation Program, I would enroll. I definitely would talk to an ER Nurse to get some background and I would also see if your local hospital(s) have a volunteer program for "future nurses." I would let them know you are interested in the ER. If you are in college, you may be able to obtain a Nurse Internship role, depending on the facility. If not, you may be able to get a job as a PCT(Patient Care Tech), which would help.

I can't tell from your profile on whether you are a HS student or in college so I thought I approach the subject of Associate degree versus a four year degree. There continues to be conflicting arguments on each within nursing. I would be careful and do thorough research on what is required in your location before picking a degree program. Be advised that even within one location, different hospitals may have different requirements. Given all of the above, I have to admit that most hospitals, especially large corporate hospitals, require a four year degree.

Good Luck!

David recommends the following next steps:

If you are in High School and your school has a Health Occupation, enroll in the classes.
Learn CPR, AED training and First Aid. You can take those classes even as early as your High School years.
Apply for an ER Nurse Internship if one is available.
Take a college ER Nursing elective if it is offered.
Volunteer in a ER or work as a ER tech if possible. If not, look at being a PCT(patient care tech) if your local hospital has such positions.

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