What Is An Emergency/trauma Nurse?
An emergency/trauma nurse works in the emergency care sections of hospitals and will usually be responsible for assessing incoming cases for their seriousness. This has many implications and many different fields in which the trauma nurse can work. Trauma nurses are in demand all over the world and can work in critical care units to assist patients in emergency situations, such as when they are injured or suffering from an acute illness.
Becoming a trauma nurse means you will have to be able to work under pressure and deal with stressful situations, such as when there are emergencies or catastrophes. A nurse in this field has the added pressure of language and cultural barriers since the patients will be from all over the city and may not be able to communicate their ailments. The nurse will work in close conjunction with a doctor and other healthcare professional to assess situations and help to arrange help for those who need it. There is also a degree of physical work required as some patients will not be able to walk.
In emergency nursing, you will be faced constantly with life-threatening situations and will have to prioritize care for those who need it most. In some cases, you will be called upon to give resuscitation or other life saving measures and may even need to provide emotional support for families whose loved ones are in a life threatening state. You may be wondering what is special about a trauma nurse. After all, isn’t every nurse trained to work in trauma? Technically the answer is yes, but many nurses work only whiten their fields. A trauma nurse is different in that they have the responsibility of always being in the emergency care unit.
Though the terms emergency nursing and trauma nursing are used interchangeably, they are not technically the same thing. In an emergency nursing situation, the nurse will have to deal with issues of initial care in a critical situation, while in trauma; a nurse may be working for days or weeks with the same patients who are in life threatening conditions. An emergency nurse has to be ready for absolutely anything from gunshots to accidents and may have to face some unusual situations from people sticking objects into various body cavities, to those who have been the victims of crime. It is not unusual to see a gunshot wound, a car accident and an accident born of carelessness in the same shift.
In some cases, natural disasters may occur and this can influence a trauma nurse directly, since the emergency room is sure to be full of those who need care. In this situation, the trauma emergency nurse is not just assessing situations, but also dealing with them on the spot. This could mean stitching up those patients who need it, resuscitating patients of even setting broken bones in the emergency room. This trade is one that requires you to know something about everything and in a large scale emergency situation, the work of a trauma nurse is invaluable.
Emergency/trauma Nurse Requirements
To work as a trauma nurse, you would need a nursing qualification focusing on emergency care. In some cases, you can get an additional qualification specializing in trauma and emergencies, though this is not necessary to find a job. There are certain personality traits that a trauma nurse must have to work in this field including:
- Ability to stay calm under pressure – because you will be working in highly charged situations in which others are panicking it is vital that you are the eye of the storm and remain calm.
- Good decision maker – a trauma nurse needs to be good at making quick decisions, since in an emergency, even a few seconds can make a big difference.
- Good people skills – it is vital in this field to be able to relate to people from all cultures and who speak all languages. This does not mean having to be multilingual, but rather having the ability to communicate well with anyone even over language barriers and being respectful of all patients.
- High degree of knowledge and skill – an emergency nurse does not have the time to think through every possible situation and has to make quick decisions based on real knowledge.
- Attentive – a good trauma nurse understands the emotional problems that an emergency can bring about and is thus attentive to his or her patients. This means being there for them while the situation is still going and helping them deal with problems they may be having.
- Observant – while the doctors are busy, an emergency/trauma nurse needs to be the responsible party for everyone else. This means being observant and being able to pay attention to detail. One small oversight could result in huge complication, so the trauma nurse has to have their eyes open and their ears to the ground.
- Creative – there will be times when you have to think on the go and this means being creative with how you deal with certain injuries. On TV, you may have seen emergency medical dramas where people close wounds with glue or use belts and tourniquets and though you may not have to go quite that far, this is the kind of creativity that you will need in this field.
Emergency nursing has become a specialty of nurses who have worked in other fields and it is not unusual to see a nurse move from cardiac or surgical care to emergency care.
To become an emergency/trauma nurse, you will need a college degree followed by a year of training as an LPN. Once you have passed your national licensing exam, you will need to specialize and this is discussed further on. One thing you need to be aware of if you are planning on specializing in this field is that it can be immensely stressful and you may find that you need to go for counseling to discuss what you see on a daily basis. There is a lot of responsibility in this position and you may find that you become emotionally connected to patients.
For those who wish to become trauma/emergency nurses, courses in effective communication, dealing with stress and relaxation techniques are also recommended.
How To Become An Emergency/trauma Nurse
To become an emergency nurse, you will need to have passed the Board Certification in Emergency Nursing in the USA and be in possession of a valid RN or LPN license. Those who wish to become accredited can also register with the Emergency Nurses Association that is a protective body for workers in this field. To become a Certified Emergency Nurse, you will have to be an RN who has passed a computer-based exam specializing in different types of emergency. This may include flight nursing and even paediatric emergencies.
A nurse also needs to be familiar with emergency equipment and new advances in medicine and this may mean going on courses regularly and reading up about new advancements. It benefits a trauma nurse to know about new procedures since they may such a large contribution to a hospital environment.
Online/Distance Education Programs
Some online and distance programs do exist for becoming a trauma or emergency nurse and these can be found online. While the theoretical knowledge can be learned in this way, it is vital that a trauma nurse understands that to get real experience, they will have to work in a clinic. This is why it is recommended that those hoping to pursue this career qualify as an RN or LPN and do some clinic work in trauma before they pursue the formal qualification.
It may be difficult for those already working in trauma to pursue a formal qualification even online, since the job is very tiring; however, the money is better when there is a formal qualification, so it may be well worth it.
Those who wish to become trauma nurses will be pleased to learn that there is not only a myriad of job opportunities in this field, but also a lot of room for advancement. Depending on the state you live in, you will probably find that there are many opportunities in this field, but because there are so few candidates to try and fill so many roles, you may have to work longer shifts or more shifts just to try and cope with the influx of emergencies.
There is a lot of room for advancement in this field because a trauma nurse will have seen every kind of injury and illness there is from problems related to chronic illnesses to injuries caused by crime, accidents and natural disasters. As such if they choose to leave the field of emergency/trauma nursing after a while, they can go into any other kind of care. The natural progression for a trauma nurse though is to be promoted and work in management of the trauma unit, or to become a teacher of younger less-experienced trauma nurses.
An emergency/trauma nurse will usually earn about $60 000 a year depending on where they practice, but this figure goes up exponentially with their amount of training and education. A nurse in this field can earn as much as $90 000 a year if they have spent time on the job. Some nurses may find they have to work longer hours which will earn them a higher salary. As the trauma nurse works for more years and becomes more educated, it will be easier to command a larger salary and more responsibility. This is the kind of position though where the real reward comes in caring for those who are injured and ill and helping set them back on the path to health.
An emergency/trauma nurse is a very special type of person. They are the types who will not shy aware from a difficult situation, but instead will dive into them headfirst, so to speak. They are also the kinds of people who are good under pressure and whom others can rely on to keep a level head in an emergency situation. If this is a career you are thinking of pursuing, you will need to think hard about all of the implications of becoming a trauma nurse and the responsibilities that go along with it.
What you will find though is that the position can be immensely rewarding, both emotionally and mentally and while you learn new things every day on the job, you will also meet new people and make new friends. A trauma nurse can work in a hospital, a critical care unit, as a travel nurse or even in the military and if this is something that piques your interest, it is definitely worth further exploration.
Know that as a trauma nurse you will spend many years studying and working with people who are in dire situations that threaten their lives. You may be faced with unusual diseases and problems cause by crime and carelessness that will make you question the human race as a whole. Know that even in these situations, you will be doing your part to improve the community and the society in which you live.
Trauma nurses have a very important role to play in any institution and the decision to become a trauma nurse means you will be adding value for years to come. Despite all of the difficult things you will face, you will also see people working on their health and getting through some very tough situations. It is because of this amazing human spirit that people become trauma nurses and through their own goodwill and their strength of character that they help people regain what they have lost in terms of their health. This is a field that needs good people and there are many job opportunities all over the world, as well as in the US. For those who are looking for a position where they can help their fellow man, earn a good salary and contribute to the community and the world, then becoming an emergency/trauma nurse is it.