There’s not one set of necessary qualities that are required if you want to be an emergency room nurse, but having certain characteristics might make you more suited for the job.
Emergency room nurses must be able to remain calm in high-stress and high-pressure situations, and that includes exuding confidence in the midst of uncertainty, Carroll says. Your ability to handle a situation with care and confidence can make a big difference in a patient’s level of comfort and calm.
Staying flexible in tricky situations is essential. “You must be able to deal with situations that have no warning and be able to roll with whatever happens.” Having a thirst for knowledge is another trait that will serve you well in the emergency room. “You need to be committed to lifelong learning because you can see anything in the emergency department. You need to keep up with everything,” Carroll says.
In the end, one of the most important qualities an emergency room nurse can have is one that’s shared across all nursing specialties: empathy. “There is nothing worse than being in need of emergency services and having no one who smiles, understands you, or remembers you don’t want to be there,” Elliott says. “I believe one must be compassionate, patient, and unafraid to be human.”
How do you become an emergency room nurse?
The first step is simple: you must become a registered nurse (RN) by obtaining either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both roads lead to an RN career, but you’ll have to decide whether an ADN or a BSN is best for your own career aspirations. Once you have your Nursing degree in hand, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before working as a registered nurse.
After becoming a fully licensed RN, you can begin working toward a specialty in emergency nursing. Gaining experience in emergency medical situations will be key. Try working as a floating nurse in your hospital’s emergency room or assisting teams of paramedics to acquire applicable experience.
After earning a minimum of two years of related emergency experience, you can also apply to earn a certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). This credential isn’t required to land employment as an emergency room nurse, but it could give you an edge over other candidates.
Save the day as an emergency room nurse
Does the idea of thinking on your feet in the fast-paced environment of the emergency room get your adrenaline pumping? Then emergency nursing might be the perfect nursing specialty for you.
Before you can conquer the chaos of the emergency room, you must first become a licensed RN. Learn how to get started in our article, “How to Become a Registered Nurse (Your Step-by-Step Guide).”