Emergency Nursing

Emergency Nursing: Ready for Anything and Anyone


emergency_nursingWhen we think of a medical emergency we may initially think of a sudden accident or injury that needs to be treated in the emergency room, but emergency nursing is about more than this. Emergency nursing is also about caring for patients in the emergency or critical phase of an illness. Those who work in emergency nursing have the ability to identify life-threating issues and quickly arrange appropriate care. Emergency nurses typically find themselves in potential life-or-death situations when every second counts and they must therefore be able to operate rapidly and efficiently whilst maintaining both professionalism in their role and compassion for their patient.

Emergency nursing is not only characterized by its inherently high pressure nature, but also by the fact that an emergency nurse's patient could be anyone. Regardless of age, race, background, gender or lifestyle, anybody can find themselves suddenly in need of emergency nursing. Not only do emergency nurses deal with a wide variety of patients, they must also be prepared to treat a vast array of sicknesses and traumas. As you can imagine, generic and specific knowledge of health care and immaculate people skills are absolutely paramount to succeeding in this nursing career speciality. Emergency nurses really do have to be ready for anything and anyone. 

What an Emergency Nurse Does

Although emergency nurses can be found applying critical treatments to patients and liaising with their relatives in hospital emergency departments, they're not just limited to the emergency room. They may also tend to medical emergencies in automobile and helicopter ambulances, episodic care centers, passenger ships, amateur and professional sports events and any other public building or event.

Apart from dealing with medical emergencies, emergency nurses can also educate the public on injury prevention issues including alcohol and drug awareness, traffic safety, weapon safety, safety in the home and the prevention of social and domestic violence.

Other roles that emergency nurses regularly appear in include administrative, management and research roles. These types of position are all geared towards the overall improvement of emergency health care, helping those on the frontline of emergency care to perform better and more easily at work.

Despite a typical emergency nurse having to be ready for anything and needing a broad knowledge base, there are some subspecialties within the field of emergency nursing. These include trauma nursing, pediatric nursing and injury prevention.

Is Emergency Nursing For You?

With emergency nursing being both a critical and taxing profession, there are specific attributes that someone has to have in order to be successful as an emergency nurse. If you're able to shift your level of activity from slow to fast at a moment's notice and you're capable of multi-tasking whilst maintaining a high performance level, this will definitely work in your advantage. A career that's often fast-paced and requires you to do several things at once is of course tailor-made for a person with plenty of stamina and the ability to stay calm under pressure. As it's so important to quickly recognize and treat life-threatening problems you must have the ultimate confidence in your observation, assessment and prioritization skills.

Remembering that patients are people however urgent the situation is, it's also crucial to have excellent interpersonal, communication and advocate skills in this line of work. Maintaining a sense of humor will not only keep you going but also lift the spirits of the rest of your team and also help the patients themselves. Capable of both thinking and moving quickly, you will have personal coping mechanisms in place to make sure the hectic, sometimes harrowing nature of your work doesn't overwhelm you or negatively affect your performance.

Becoming an Emergency Nurse

To get into emergency nursing you must first become a registered nurse. A lot of budding emergency nurses then go on to obtain additional qualifications in fields such as geriatrics, trauma and pediatric and areas of injury prevention and other nursing practices. It's also possible to take a special examination in order to demonstrate the extent of your emergency nursing knowledge. Once you've passed this exam, you receive an emergency nursing certification.

If you're unsure where to go to receive specific emergency nursing training keep in mind that many emergency departments are currently trying to counter the shortage of available nurses by hiring new ones and training them in the skills specific to the emergency nursing speciality.

As a stepping stone to being hired by an emergency department, consider enrolling in an orientation or internship program based at a hospital or medical institution and targeted towards non-emergency nurses. Orientation should take a minimum of 3 to 6 months, allowing you to literally orientate to your surroundings and to the nursing profession before becoming a member of the full-fledged emergency nursing staff.

Another way into emergency nursing is to work within a different nursing career speciality for one or two years, acquiring the qualities, skills and experience that will be transferable into an emergency setting.

Even after acquiring all the work experience and certifications needed to break into the field, emergency nurses must stay on top of their profession by constantly updating their education and knowledge base. Many emergency nurses keep track of the emerging issues, trends and procedures in their profession by becoming members of the Emergency Nurses Association and taking advantage of the organization's wide array of online and offline resources. By keeping up with the most recent developments in their field, emergency nurses continue to ensure that they can perform their critically important job to the best of their ability.

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