A Handy Guide On How to Become An ER Nurse

er nurse

Emergency nursing isn’t for everyone.

If you are the type of person who’ll cringe at the sight of serious burns or faint after seeing broken bones, then this isn’t the specialty for you. However, if you enjoy working long hours in an extremely exhausting medical environment, then you’re totally cut out to become an ER nurse.

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand what it means to be an ER nurse and how you can get started.

Becoming An Emergency Room Nurse

emergency room

To become an ER nurse, you need to successfully complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. After that, you have to take and pass the NCLEX.

In addition to being a registered nurse, you also need to get certifications for the following:

  • Basic Life Support
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Phlebotomy skills
  • Trauma Nursing Core Course

These are some of the skills you’ll need to be successful in this specialty.

Once you are able to work as an ER nurse for two years, you can get a certificate from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. This isn’t mandatory but getting certified is strongly recommended. It will serve as a reflection of your skills and knowledge which can increase your chances of getting hired.

Now, if you are a new nurse in your emergency department, get as much experience as you can. It’s the best learning tool you can use to improve not just your knowledge but skills, too.

You can also try assisting or volunteering as a paramedic in your area.

See Also: Emergency First Aid for Nurses: A Practical Guide

 What Does An ER Nurse Do?

how to become an er nurse

As an ER nurse, you’ll work in a really fast-paced environment. You’ll have a wide range of tasks, like performing CPR, administering medications, and providing proper wound care.

Since emergency situations can’t be predicted, you have to be prepared to deal with whatever condition or illness your patient is experiencing. Your actions and quick thinking can help save your patients’ lives.

As an ER nurse, you need to:

  • Exhibit strong mental, emotional, and physical health
  • Possess up-to-date knowledge and skills regarding delivering emergency care
  • Assess patients quickly and accurately
  • Be familiar with a wide range of medical procedures
  • Be knowledgeable about diagnostic procedures and tests
  • Know how to prioritize patient care
  • Know how to care for a wide demographic
  • Demonstrate leadership while working closely with the rest of the healthcare team
  • Be knowledgeable with proper documentation

Where Can An ER Nurse Work?

Contrary to what most people believe in, ER nurses aren’t just for emergency rooms in hospitals. You actually have a lot of choices.

You can work in triage centers, trauma centers, and urgent care centers. In addition to those, you can also work in clinics, prisons, emergency response units, and even in the military.

You can be an EMT and paramedic, too. For these alternative careers, you need to be able to provide care to your patients on the site of the accident. You also need to be confident enough with your knowledge and skills to safely transport your patients to the hospital either by an ambulance or helicopter.

emt nurse

See Also: Emergency Treatment for Penetrating Chest Wounds

Job Outlook

Over the next decade, there will be an increase of 26% in the opportunities for ER nurses. This is good news for someone who’s aspiring to become one or planning to change specialties.

As for salary, you can expect to get as much as $67,930 per year. Of course, that salary average will depend on your experience, educational background, and place where you’re going to be hired.

If you want to increase your rate, getting a certification and a Master’s degree can greatly help.

The Pros And Cons of ER Nursing

ER nursing can help you become a better nurse.

It can expose you to all types of injuries and illnesses. It’s also an interesting job which means you won’t easily get bored. It can teach you all about teamwork and collaboration, too.

And the best part?

Being an ER nurse is rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to save people’s lives.

Still, despite all of the great things you just learned about ER nursing, it’s not the best nursing specialty.


Well, for one, it exposes you to a lot of stress. In the ER, most of the cases will be life and death situations. Whether you like it or not, those situations can have an immense impact on you mentally and emotionally.

It’s also a fast-paced environment where you need to keep moving around and attending multiple patients throughout your shift. If you don’t have the stamina to perform all those tasks, working as an ER nurse can be detrimental to your health.