A Day in the Life of an Emergency Room Nurse

in General 01 January 1999

Working as an emergency room nurse can be a great career path, especially if you have an online MSN. Whether you are an experienced nurse looking to make a change or a new graduate deciding what area of nursing to choose, ER nursing may a good option. Keep in mind, working in the emergency room is not always like it appears on television. The life of an emergency room nurse is exciting, busy, diverse and sometimes stressful.

Types of Medical Conditions Youíll Treat

One interesting thing about ER nursing is you have the opportunity to see all types of patients. You will likely treat all ages from newborns to the elderly. In addition, emergency room nurses see a wide variety of illnesses, injuries and medical conditions.

To some extent the type of injuries and conditions you will treat depend on the size of the emergency room you are working in. For instance, if you work in a large trauma center in a big city, youíll likely see a wider variety of illness and injuries than if you work in a small rural hospital.

In general, emergency room nurses will treat patients involved in motor vehicle accidents, injuries from falls and victims of violence. Patients with medical problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, bleeding and breathing problems, are also often treated in the emergency room. But not all cases seen in the emergency room are real emergencies. Some patients come in for non-emergency situations, such as the flu or pain issues.


As an ER nurse, you may be assigned to triage. This means you will be the first nurse to see the patient. You will do a quick assessment in order to determine how serious the patientís condition is. The more serious the patientís condition is the faster they will be evaluated by the doctor and treated.

Nurses who are not assigned to triage will have a certain number of patients they are responsible for. Depending on the size of the ER, nurses will have to juggle several patients at once. Since protocols and procedures performed by nurses may vary by facility, exact responsibilities may differ.

Typically an emergency room nurse will complete assessments, start IVís, administer medication and dress wounds. Additionally, ER nurses will assist the doctor during a code blue or in other procedures. Nurses will also educate patients on their condition or illness and give them discharge information.

Pros and Cons

Similar to other nursing specialties, there are advantages and disadvantages about working as an emergency room nurse. Consider some of the pros and cons, such as the following:


Emergency room nursing can be interesting and challenging.

It offers a lot of variety and opportunities to learn new things.

ER nursing is fast paced, which some people enjoy.

Working in the ER can be rewarding. You may see the difference you are making immediately in some situations, such as during a life threatening event.

You will need to handle multiple situations at once. For some people, this may be exciting. Others may find in difficult.

Work can be stressful. Juggling demanding patients, handling several orders from doctors and dealing with emergencies can be difficult.

ER nursing can be emotionally tough. Working in the ER, youíre likely to see some heartbreaking situations, which can be tough to deal with.

Although it is not for everyone, working as an emergency room nurse is the perfect fit for some people. One thing is certain every day is different in the life of an emergency room nurse.

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