An emergency room nurse (also referred to as an ER nurse or ICU nurse) is an experienced registered nurse who specializes in providing critical medical care and specialized treatment to patients that are either critically injured or severely ill.
These nurses focus on providing medical treatments to patients suffering from a wide variety of life and death situations and specialize in the rapid assessment and treatment of their patients ailments.
Emergency nurses must be ready to respond in a moments notice and think on their feet because in the emergency room every patient experience is unique and every second counts.
While some of the patients being treated may suffer from similar injuries each and every incident is different and must be treated as a separate and unique case.
In addition to the emergency room ER nurses must also be ready and able to operate in a wide variety of different health care settings.
What are the responsibilities of an emergency room nurse?
ER nurses are responsible for administering medication, cleaning lacerations, taking blood work, inserting IV’s and assisting physicians in and out of the emergency room along with many other tasks related to their field.
Emergency room nurses are also responsible for keeping records of the patients they’ve treated.
In this medical profession ER nurses must always be ready to assess and treat a wide variety of life threatening and non life threatening injuries and illnesses from minor throat infections to heart attacks and severe traumas caused by accidents or violence.
The types of patients that can end up in the emergency room often depends on a large number of unpredictable circumstances such as:
- bad/severe weather storms
- motor vehicle/highway accidents
- work related and industrial accidents
- house fires
- acts of violence
- accidentally swallowed or ingested foreign objects
- alcohol poisoning
- drug abuse
- health related illnesses
and hundreds of other unpredictable situations.
Emergency nurses are expected to care for a large diversity of patients regardless of their age, health status or medical condition.
All ER nurses should be familiar with the policies of the hospital and/or facility they work for, as well as have a clear understanding of the proper medical/hospital procedures and protocols necessary to operate ethically, effectively and efficiently in their health care setting.
Because the emergency medical field is a fast paced environment ER nurses must do a good job of utilizing their abilities and must posses good time management skills.
These nurses also must also prioritize their responsibilities based on their job duties and the condition of their patients.
Those who are able to properly manage their time, effectively multitask and prioritize their responsibilities have a better time completing their duties in a timely manner and maintain confidence in critical situations.
Nurses for Healthier Tomorrow
The Nurses for Healthier Tomorrow (NHT) is a collaboration of nursing and health care organizations that work together to create campaigns and communicate a message which is focused on attracting people into the nursing profession.
According to the NHT there are three major roles an emergency nurse should carry out:
1) Emergency nurses should provide proper patient care to a wide diversity of individuals.
Emergency nurses should care for patients and families in hospital emergency departments, ambulances, helicopters, urgent care centers, cruise ships, sport arenas, industry, government, and anywhere that there may be a need for an emergency medical expert or team.
2) Emergency nurses should provide the public with education aimed at promoting wellness and preventing injuries.
Emergency nurses should educate the public through a variety of programs that help promote mental and physical wellness and prevent injuries.
Some of these educational programs ER nurses may promote include:
- alcohol awareness
- child passenger safety
- gun safety
- bicycle and helmet safety
- domestic violence prevention
3) Emergency nurses should focus on providing leadership and expanding research.
The nursing field is extremely diverse and some ER nurses may work in a variety of managerial and research fields such as administrators, managers, and researchers who focus on improving the emergency health care field.
Emergency nurses may also specialize in a variety of nursing care fields such as:
- Ambulatory care
- neonatal care
- psychiatric care
The current state of nursing
Nursing is and will continue to be an extremely demanding field and finding qualified nurses continues to be a struggle for some hospitals and care facilities.
Even in our current economy today emergency nurses continue to be in high demand, so much in fact that an entire industry dedicated to travel nursing has been created to help hospitals in need find qualified registered nurses to fill empty positions at their hospitals.
With all the responsibilities and duties emergency nurses face on a daily basis it can easily become an overwhelming and exhausting profession.
For these hard-working nurses it is essential not to lose focus on the very reason they entered this medical field.
They did it because of their compassion and love for life, and a desire to help someone in need.