A Complete Guide on How to Become A Trauma Nurse

how to become a trauma nurse

Trauma nursing isn’t really for the faint of heart. You need to have the technical skills, presence of mind, and the flexibility to adapt in a changing environment to effectively care for patients suffering from life-threatening injuries. Any delay in intervention or decision-making can jeopardize the patient’s health.

If you know that you possess those traits and you have what it takes to work efficiently and quickly in emergency and critical cases, read on to find out how to become a trauma nurse/

A Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming a Trauma Nurse

The steps to becoming a trauma nurse is not entirely different from other nursing specialties. Basically, you’ll need to conquer five steps in order for you to become one.

RN Degree

You can earn an RN degree by completing an associate or bachelor degree program. Getting an associate degree may not be considered as the primary form of training to obtain a nursing degree but it’s the fastest route to take.

A Bachelor degree program, on the other hand, takes a longer time to complete. It’s a 4-year program that’ll allow you to master anatomy, physiology, psychology, microbiology, and other general nursing classes.

See Also: Top 10 Cheapest RN to BSN Programs Online


nclex rn exam

For you to get your license to practice nursing, you need to pass the NCLEX exam or the National Council Licensure Examination. It’s a standardized test issued by the individual state board of nursing to determine the preparedness of the candidates to enter the nursing practice. It mainly covers specific categories of client needs.

If you are an RN taking the exam, you’ll have to answer a minimum of 75 questions. If you are an LPN candidate, you’ll have to answer a minimum of 85 questions. You will be given a total of 5 hours to answer the questions. After the exam, the computer will determine your level of competence.

See Also: All You Need to Know About the NCLEX Test


Before you can actually be a trauma nurse, you’ll need to gain 1,000 hours of staff nurse experience or a minimum of 2 years working in an emergency department.

Emergency Nursing and Trauma Nursing Certification

Obtaining the said certifications is one way to show your employers that you are really serious about your career. It’s also a way for you to show how competent and confident you are in handling trauma cases. For trauma nurses, one of the most known certifying bodies is the Board of Certification in Emergency Nursing.

Where to Work

As a trauma nurse, you have a lot of options. You’ll find work in the critical areas of emergency departments as well as trauma centers and intensive care units. You can work in burn units, rehabilitation units, perioperative units, and anywhere patients require trauma care.

What Does a Trauma Nurse Do?

trauma nurse job

In trauma nursing, you are expected to be able to safely and efficiently provide nursing interventions during emergencies. You will perform a wide range of emergency medical procedures which include:

  • Drawing blood
  • IV insertion
  • Administration of medicines
  • Monitoring
  • Intubation
  • Preparing patients for diagnostic testing and surgery

As a trauma nurse, you need to think quickly and be used to handling complicated and severe medical injuries. You need to quickly adapt and respond to your patients’ needs as time is really critical in your setting.

Some of the cases you’ll handle are:

  • Stab wounds
  • Vehicular accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Head injuries

Additionally, you will also have to coordinate information between other nurses, doctors, and patients’ families. This can really be chaotic and stressful.

As for working hours, be prepared to work long hours. You’ll be responsible for providing specialized care to critical and badly injured patients which may require you to work longer than usual.

If you want to get a glimpse of what it’s like to work as a trauma nurse, watch the video below:

Salary of Trauma Nurses

The average salary of trauma nurses is around $62,000 or $30.48 per hour. The number can increase or decrease depending on your location, experience, and certifications.

Apart from the high salary, the job outlook for this nursing specialty is also promising. It’s expected to increase by 20% over the next decade.

Check out our infographic!

trauma nurse

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