What type of nursing school do you have to attend to become a kick-butt trauma nurse?
You see them in the movies and on TV—nurses in adrenaline charged Emergency Departments with blood and guts all around them. For some breeds of nurses this is the only environment in which they get to really excel, push their skills to the max. But is it for you?
You can break into a job as a Trauma Nurse with a two-year Associates degree in Nursing. This is an entry-level RN program and it gives you the skills you need to get started. However, in a hectic Emergency Department or Trauma Unit the number of jobs available to entry-level RNs may be strictly limited. Most experienced trauma or ED nurses have earned at least their BSN, and some their MSN.
Direct entry to an ED or Trauma Nurse job may require you get your feet wet in another specialty, first—such as Critical Care Nursing.
Trauma nurses are on the front lines, so to speak, of nursing. Common job situations include Emergency Departments, Flight Nursing and Trauma Units. In any of these environments professional RNs must adapt to an elastic patient flow, sometimes driven by outside forces, including time of year, weather, regional population, and even disasters.
As a nurse in a trauma unit you learn to quickly assess patients of every age for a range of illnesses and conditions from the common cold to car accidents, industrial accidents, sudden and life threatening illnesses, traumatic injuries, psychiatric emergencies, domestic violence, and even disasters and public health emergencies.
Should you seek to work as a Trauma Nurse in an ED or otherwise expect to be prepared to hit the ground running, little coddling. Of course you get appropriate precepting and orientation, but your peers will likely expect you to think quickly on your feet, react to patient situations appropriately, play like a team member, and be able and willing to respond to a very diverse patient population.
Average salary in the U.S. for a trauma or ED nurse is $59,000+.* This figure varies with region, type of work environment, level of experience and more.
The Emergency Nurses Association is the professional organization that provides support, education and membership for ED RNs. Beyond your Associates or Bachelors in Nursing you may be required as a condition of employment to seek your Certified Emergency Nurse certification.