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WHAT DO EMERGENCY ROOM NURSES DO?

Quick thinking, decisive action and a strong stomach. Those are just three of the things you'll need for your career as an emergency room nurse. Emergency room (ER) nurses work in critical care emergency facilities to assist doctors and work with emergency medical technicians in helping people in pain and possibly life-threatening trauma.

ER nurses work as part of a team with physicians, other nurses and healthcare professionals to provide care, monitor health conditions, plan long-term care needs, administer medicine, use medical equipment, perform minor medical operations, and advise patients and their families on illness, care and continued care after a hospital stay.

Emergency rooms are often the first line of defense for accidents, allergic reactions, and any number of urgent medical care. ER nurses work to quickly assess the needs of each patient, prioritize care based on its critical nature, and work to stabilize a patient, treat the problem, discharge the patient after the emergency is over or make arrangements for a longer hospital stay.

WHAT ARE THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS?

Registered nurses must have one of the following: a bachelor's of science in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing, or have graduated from an accredited and approved nursing program.

In addition, licensure is required, and may be obtained from graduating an approved nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Depending on the state, there may be other requirements.

Nurses can then specialize in emergency room medicine through experience and continuous education.

JOB SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS

  • Critical-Thinking Skills: Nurses will need to assess a patient's health, as well as detect changes in symptoms, health or pain, and will need to know when action is necessary.
  • Compassion: Nurses help people. They should be sympathetic to a patient's needs, and be able to deal with people in various states of pain, trauma and tragedy.
  • Attention to Detail: Nurses can help doctors operate, administer medicines and work with specific treatments that, if wrong could prove fatal. Attention to detail is crucial.
  • Organizational Skills: Nurses will face multiple patients, with differing needs, stages of health and risks. Being organized and knowing how to prioritize will be helpful.
  • Calm Under Pressure: ER Nurses face urgent, life-or-death situations almost daily. Being able to function in the heat of emergency will be necessary.
  • Patience: Giving care under stressful circumstances requires patience.
  • Communication Skills: Nurses communicate directly with patients who are scared, in pain or in shock. Families will have questions and want answers. Good nurses need to be patient listeners and good communicators to help keep everyone calm and help them understand the situation.

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