Emergency Nurses


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Take as many science (especially biology and human anatomy), mathematics, psychology, computer science, and health classes as you can in high school. Other recommended courses include computer science, English, and speech. 

Postsecondary Training

Emergency nurses must be registered nurses. There are three basic kinds of training programs that you may choose from to become a registered nurse: associate's degree, diploma, and bachelor's degree. Entry-level requirements to become an emergency nurse depend on the state, the institution, its size, who it serves, and the availability of nurses in that specialty and geographical region. Usually aspiring emergency nurses must have some nursing experience before entering the emergency-nursing field.

Other Education or Training

The Emergency Nurses Association offers continuing education classes, seminars, and workshops both online and at its conferences. Recent courses included Critical Thinking at Triage, Confidently Dissolving Conflict: Achieve Better Solutions and Relationships, Shock and Hematological Emergencies, and Cardiovascular Emergencies. The Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association also provides continuing education. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Some employers may require emergency room nurses to be certified. Certification as a certified transport registered nurse is available through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing and requires recertification every four years. Applicants must be registered nurses and pass an examination. The American Nurses Credentialing Center also provides certification.

All states and the District of Columbia require a license to practice nursing. To obtain a license, graduates of approved nursing schools must pass a national examination. Nurses may be licensed by more than one state. In some states, continuing education is a condition for license renewal.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Nurses typically obtain some experience (one to three years) as a staff nurse before entering emergency nursing. Some employers may hire recent nursing graduates with no experience in emergency nursing, but they need at least a bachelor's of science in nursing and preferably a graduate degree.

Emergency room nurses should like working in a fast-paced environment that requires lifelong learning. This is a very intense nursing field and nurses should be able to make critical decisions quickly and intelligently. New medical technology is constantly being developed and implemented, and emergency care nurses should be technically inclined and skilled in operating medical equipment.

Emergency nurses must be able to deal with major life and death crises. Because of the suddenness and perhaps seriousness of their loved one's illness, family members and friends may be difficult to deal with and the nurse must display patience, understanding, and composure during these emotional times. The nurse must be able to communicate with the family and explain medical terminology and procedures to the patient and family so they can understand what is being done and why.

Emergency nursing is a very intense nursing specialty, as patients require immediate attention, constant care, and monitoring. Many facilities require nurses to work 12-hour shifts, which can be very exhausting. In addition, emergency nurses are often on call in the event of a disaster, severe accident, or some other situation where additional staff may be needed.