Emergency nurses (ED/ER) provide emergency or urgent care to patients that need to be evaluated by medical staff as soon as possible. Some patients arrive at the ED/ER by ambulance, and others come on their own or with family, but all these patients must be assessed in short order and treatment delivered.
Emergency nurses (ED/ER) treat patients of any age group. They must quickly assess incoming patients and prioritize patient care based on need, available staffing, and patient acuity. They work as part of a team in the ED/ER and often initiate treatment while waiting for the physician to come and evaluate the patient.
Emergency nursing is a unique field because these nurses are exposed to a greater diversity of conditions than any other department. The variety of patients assures that no two days are alike. The energy in the ED/ER is either on high alert or peacefully waiting for some complicated case to come in the door. Emergency nurses (ED/ER) are experts in immediate front-end care. They weave and dodge through the controlled chaos of the department and maneuver their patients through the system and on their way to a subsequent caregiving unit, the OR for emergency surgery, or discharge home after observation.
Emergency nurses (ED/ER) often receive advanced training to improve their skills. There are several certifications they can acquire. Some become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) who specialize in an area of emergency care.
Emergency nurses (ED/ER) perform some of the same activities as other nurses but do so in the fast-paced emergency environment. Most care begins with the triage nurse, who takes the patient’s history and vital signs and then decides whether the patient is urgent, emergent, or can wait to be seen by the medical team.
Once patients are brought inside the ED/ER, another emergency nurse (ED/ER) takes over. This nurse will be the one to deliver direct care. They continue with a physical exam, re-check vital signs, possibly start IVs, and draw lab work even before the physician sees the patient.
If the patient is having a life-threatening event, the emergency nurse (ED/ER) begins giving medication, setting up oxygen, and any equipment that may be needed, e.g., the crash cart. They alert the medical team to urgently evaluate the patient. Afterward, they monitor the patient’s vital signs and lab results to report any changes. These are the patients that will be admitted to the hospital.
Less acute patients receive care depending on diagnosis to improve their status so that they may return home. This may involve breathing treatments, IV fluids, IV antibiotics, pain medication, or other physical exams to determine what is causing their problem.
Emergency nurses (ED/ER) provide discharge teaching and instructions to those patients discharged and follow-up care instructions.
Emergency nurses (ED/ER) need skills to manage:
- Crash carts
- AEDs· EKGs
- Chest tubes
- Trauma care
- IV insertion of large-bore catheters