A trauma nurse (aka emergency room nurse) is a registered nurse who works in the trauma center of an emergency room assisting doctors and other medical professionals with stabilizing a patients condition, performing surgery, healing/treating severe and non severe ailments and recovering patients who are suffering from an immediate and/or severe injury or illness.
Trauma nurses specialize in caring for individuals suffering from cardiovascular disease, severe illnesses, body trauma, major injuries, car accidents, patients requiring immediate life saving surgery and other life threatening situations.
In this field no two patients share the same exact injury or illness and each situation has to be handled as a new and unique condition, and with extreme care because a patients life is often at risk if something goes wrong.
Because of this trauma nurses are generally highly trained and educated registered nurses with years of experience in the critical care field.
Trauma nursing is one of the most important professions in nursing and every learned skill will be put to the test when working in an emergency care center.
Trauma nurses must be comfortable dealing with patients who are severely injured or ill, be able to think quickly and decisively in life threatening situations, be focused and well organized, able to communicate effectively with a team and not get overly emotional about dealing with situations involving patients and families who are going through traumatic situations.
Those who are interested in starting a career as a trauma nurse must first gain some critical care experience working as a registered nurse in order to gain a good understanding of what is required in the nursing field.
While working as an RN for a few years you will want to gear your on the job training towards the critical care field and take as many educational and certification programs related to the critical care field as possible.
The sooner you begin taking the programs the better as this will help prepare you for your role as a trauma nurse.
One course you may want the consider applying for is the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) which provides nurses with a vital education on dealing with patients who are suffering from a traumatic situation.
Important skills you’ll need to develop as a trauma nurse:
Communication – Being able to communicate effectively and efficiently is vital for the care of the patient. This means being able to understand complex concepts and medical terms so that you can understand and communicate what needs to be done in order to effectively improve a patients health.
Critical care experience – As stated earlier critical care experience is vital for patient care as it provides you with the skills and knowledge you need to be effective in the field when dealing with trauma patients. Gaining experience early on will help prepare you for your role as a trauma nurse.
Emotional stability – Emotional stability is the ability to not get overwhelmed, frustrated or upset when dealing with traumatic situations. In this field it’s easy to get overly emotional about dealing with a patient who is severely injured or sick. Especially when you first start out. Being able to be compassionate but not emotionally compromised when dealing with these patients is a necessary component of being a trauma nurse.
Leadership – In this field there will be times when you will need to lead other nurses in the field in order to make critical decisions that are vital to a patients health. You may have to lead because you have the most experience or because you are able to be decisive when others are not, so it is important to understand that you’ll need to develop your leadership skills and not be afraid to speak up when you believe a decision has to be made or changed.
Critical and decisive thinking – Critical and decisive thinking is the ability to take a necessary action in order to improve a situation. Trauma nurses do not have the luxury of procrastinating or taking their time. They must be experienced enough to trust their training and education in order to make the right decision when timing is extremely important
Teamwork mentality – Trauma nursing is not a one person position. Trauma nurses often work with a team of medical experts and must have a teamwork mentality in order to be effective and provide the best patient care possible. The collective knowledge and training of the group is what leads to improved patient care standards and recovery/survival rates.
If you’re able to think on your feet, separate your emotions in order to get the job done, work well with a team and enjoy learning about the medical field than becoming a trauma nurse may be the right career choice for you.