This week, October 8-14, 2017, is Emergency Nurses Week, and Emergency Nurses Day is Wednesday, October 11. Sounds like the perfect time to explore a career as an Emergency Nurse!
Life as an Emergency Nurse
Emergency Nurses treat patients in emergency situations: generally trauma, injury, or sudden onset of a serious illness. In this job you’d be trained to recognize and correct life-threatening issues of all kinds, and you never know what unusual cases your shift might bring. On the other hand, you might treat a sore throat. Either way, you would be immersed in a fascinating, fast-paced, high-pressure environment – which many find to be energizing or downright exhilarating, as well as emotionally gratifying.
Are You Cut Out for It?
An EMS (emergency medical services) career takes a special kind of temperament. You need to think on your feet and be ready to calmly tackle life-and-death situations. You may witness severe trauma, or even be personally exposed to danger.
If you’re looking for a challenge, an adrenaline boost, and a lot of growth potential, this may be the career for you. It’s a rewarding field, in which you help people when they really need it, and maybe even save their life. For more on this field, see our blog from last May: Hot Careers in Medicine.
Salary and Career Potential for Emergency Nurses
Emergency Nurses work in hospital emergency rooms, ambulances, helicopters, urgent care centers, sports arenas, and other venues. Naturally, there are many opportunities for EMS nurses within the military as well. With an emergency nursing background, you’ll also have the option to work as an administrator, manager, researcher, or educator.
Financial compensation in this field is often calculated on an hourly basis, with opportunities for overtime work. PayScale calculates that your total annual compensation would range from $48,220-$95,787. If you have a specialty license, you can make even more. Examples of certified, licensed specialties within this field include:
- Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
- Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)
- Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN)
For more on Emergency Nurse certifications, see the BCEN website (Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing).
We couldn’t resist taking a closer look at this specialty, because who wouldn’t want to say, “Oh, my office? It’s a helicopter…”?
The time it takes to transfer a patient from one point to another can often mean the difference between life and death. The quickest way between these two points is often in the air – onboard an airplane or helicopter. Many medical facilities have helicopter rescue resources onsite, or have arranged partnerships with private “medevac” companies such as Angel MedFlight.
Emergency Flight Nurses are onboard these airborne ambulances in order to ensure that patients reach their destinations safely and in the best shape possible. These nurses have specialized training for medical care in-flight, as well as some basic flight training. As a Flight Nurse, you may be called upon to assist the pilot with certain flight duties, such as navigation, or communicating via radio, for example.
Of course your primary responsibility will be your patient. Duties may include providing emergency first aid treatment or resuscitation, inserting intravenous lines, administering medications, and monitoring patient status. Since this is often a very scary time for patients, flight nurses also know how to reassure them and keep them calm.
To Become an Emergency Nurse
The first step on this career path is to get a degree – either as Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Then you must pass the RN (registered nurse) exam, called the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
Once you pass, you can become an RN – an accomplishment in itself. Then you’ll need a minimum of 2 years of emergency nursing experience before you can apply to take your certification exam. The BCEN requires re-certification every four years. You can renew your certification by either taking an online exam or logging continuing education hours.
You can probably guess which subjects you’ll be focusing on as you prepare for this career – a lot of Science, especially Biology. You can also expect advanced courses like Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Genetics. You’ll need clinical practice at emergency rooms and urgent care clinics as well.
Thinking of majoring in this subject? Cappex.com provides 6 Schools with an Emergency Room/Trauma Nursing Major:
- Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI
- Emory University in Atlanta, GA
- Pace University - Westchester Campus in Pleasantville, NY
- University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA
- Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN
- Widener University-Main Campus in Chester, PA
Cappex, which bills itself as, “Your College Decision Headquarters,” also offers a cool quiz that helps you narrow down your college major and career matches. Look for: “IS THIS MAJOR A GOOD MATCH FOR YOU? TAKE THE FREE CAREERS & MAJORS QUIZ on their website, (but note that all of their tools and links require you to create a login, using your email address).
Wanna Try It Out?
Get hands-on experience in the medical field at Envision’s summer programs. In these programs you’ll step into the role of a physician, learning real-life medical skills, onsite at some of the nation’s best medical schools. This is a great way to explore your career choices, while adding stand-out experience to your resume or college applications.
If you’re in high school, check out:
If you’re not yet in high school, you can enjoy Envision STEM programs for middle school or elementary school, each of which includes medical workshops.
If you’ve graduated from high school, you’re eligible for our International Scholar Laureate Program: Delegation for Nursing and HealthCare, which provides both hands-on medical experience, and an amazing travel opportunity. Last summer’s programs were in Australia and South Africa!
Read more about the Emergency Medical field here.