10 Essential Tips for the Emergency Nurse

Emergency Nursing can be a very challenging specialty. It is not made for the faint of heart. I have worked as an ED nurse for about 3 years. I started right after graduating nursing school. I came from having no experience in the medical field to the ED which can be overwhelming. I thank my preceptors who helped set up the foundation to my nursing career. I used to want to cry on my way to work once I was off of orientation. Only experience and time make you a better nurse. Here are some tips to help make your shift and career a successful and more relaxing experience.

  1. Start your shift with a positive, confident and grateful mindset.
  2. Set your rooms up for success. Make sure you have the right tools. Know where important things are in your trauma room. (ambu-bags, suction, Lifepak, IV kits, saline flushes, patient monitoring, pens, stethoscope, trauma scissors, etc).
  3. Ask for help from peers when needed. The ED is all about teamwork. Know your rapid response team.
  4. Help other peers in their time of need. Some days you will have an easier shift than others but always help when you can.
  5. Learn from experiences and continued education.
  6. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize. (If you can leave the room and do only one intervention, what would it be?) Starting IV fluids, place them on the lifepak, etc.
  7. Don’t skip meals! 12 hours without eating? That’s insane. You need food to allow your brain to think critically.
  8. Grow thick skin. Patients can be mean but it’s a reflection of how they feel. Don’t take it personal.
  9. Find healthy coping mechanisms for death. Unfortunately, You can’t save everyone. Take a small break in the lounge to collect yourself after codes if you need to.
  10. Just being there emotionally for a patient or patient family can be healing as well. ED visits are unplanned and sometimes being there is all they need.

Once I started implementing these steps to my work day, was when I truly started to enjoy my nursing career. It can be stressful at times but with a great mindset and a bit of preparation YOU will definitely succeed. If you’re a recent graduate and want to start in the ED, go straight for it. You don’t need to build a foundation in Med-surg before doing so.  The great thing about this specialty is that you get exposure to all types of nursing. For example, Critical Care, Ortho, Labor and Delivery, Psych, Pediatrics (if you have both) and  Med-Surg.

Care for one, that’s love. Care for hundreds, that’s Nursing.


Link for Emergency Squad shirt

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