Spurred by technological advances and heightened emphasis on preventative care, the number of job openings for registered nurses is projected to balloon by 26 percent in coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At medical centers within large metropolitan areas, emergency room nursing positions are expected to reach enviable levels of high demand by the year 2020.

(Photo Courtesy of Suzette Cardin)

(Photo Courtesy of Suzette Cardin)

“Due to such incidents as accidents and crime, Los Angeles has the highest rate of trauma in the country,” said Suzette Cardin, assistant dean for student affairs at UCLA School of Nursing, “so there is a lot of action that goes on in emergency rooms. An excellent emergency medical services system brings in a lot of traffic. And many people use the ER for their health care since they don’t have insurance.”

The former director of the cardiac care and cardiac observation unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said specially trained nurses are imperative to the handling of dire situations when seconds matter.

“Emergency departments now use a triage nurse who improves the flow through the emergency room by quickly examining patients when they come into the ER and then determine how care is being delivered,” said Cardin.

What key abilities must an effective ER nurse possess? 

“You have to be flexible, make quick decisions, be confident in your decision-making and be able to multitask. You also need to have a very strong nursing background. Furthermore, many emergency room nurses need to have a mobile intensive care certification so they can give care instructions to pre-hospital emergency personnel.”

How does ER nursing differ from related professions?

“You have to think on your feet, be adaptable and go with the flow. If you need a lot of structure, this is not the job for you.”

What is your advice to those interested in pursuing a career as an ER nurse?

“Anyone who wants to work in an emergency room needs to obtain at least a year of nursing experience before they move into the emergency department.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.


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