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Home > Blog: Work/Life > Ever Consider Working as an Emergency Nurse?

Ever Consider Working as an Emergency Nurse?

This is a true career story as told to This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect as an Emergency Nurse, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn, and more.

I have worked for twenty years in nursing, the majority of it specializing as an Emergency Nurse in various acute care hospitals; however, I have worked for approximately three years in intensive care. If I had to describe myself in relation to my profession, I would have to say I’m precise, dedicated, and tenacious.

I am a Caucasian male, and while I have not really experienced any outright discrimination, I have found that male nurses have become much more common in the last two decades, and they seem to gravitate to the critical care settings, especially emergency.

As an emergency nurse, I am an integral part of the acute care team, and the procedures I perform and the actions I take sometimes make the difference between life and death. As an experienced nurse with a sound knowledge of physiology and pathology, my opinions bear weight and I am treated as a colleague by the physicians I work with and not merely an assistant as many people outside of healthcare may view nurses.

I would have to rate my job satisfaction as a 7 out of 10. The work itself and the improvements in emergency care over the years are what make the job very satisfying, but increasing government regulations, many of which impede patient care, can make the job frustrating.

A very satisfying part of the job is being able to teach patients and to see them take control of their healthcare. A much more satisfying, but thankfully much rarer, event is to be able to bring someone back from the brink of death and know that your actions and knowledge were literally the difference between life and death.

My situation is by no means unique. Many people have found emergency nursing as their calling in life.

What drew me to nursing was 100% employment. Many of my friends spent months after college before they got their first job in the profession they chose. I, however, was employed before I graduated.

I learned that it is not all about me. Nursing is important and nurses are an important part of the healthcare team, but the center of the healthcare team is and always has been the patient. His needs and worries come before anyone else in the team, and it’s important to never forget that the patient is part of the team and not just the object of the team.

The emergency department is a place where the strange becomes routine, but even still, sometimes the strange is truly strange. One of the strangest things I have seen was a patient who had a pay phone glued to her ear. She had stopped to make a call when her cell phone died and someone had put epoxy on the receiver of the phone. After her call, she had to call 911 to summon help and the police cut the cord of the phone and drove her to the emergency department. One of our technicians spent two hours with cotton swabs and solvent to carefully detach her ear from the phone without causing damage. When she left, she kept the phone as a souvenir.

I go to work every day because I’m paid to do so. It may sound cynical, but reimbursement is a very important part of the job; however, no one will stay in nursing for the money. The knowledge that you truly do make a difference and that you can function in a very stressful environment makes the job worth it.

Working in the emergency department, you are forced to become a specialist in generalities. In a single shift, you could have a newborn and a patient over 100 years old. Diseases involving any and every system are seen from psychiatric complaints to obstetrics, to orthopedics. The only thing that really makes me question my choice of profession is the increasing and changing regulations.

Emergency nursing has plenty of stress, but it usually comes in spurts and you always have the knowledge that when your shift ends, that you leave the stress behind and that the next day will truly be another day with new patients and new experiences. By working 12 hour shifts, I am able to work less days per week and thereby spend as much time as possible with my family and my life outside of work.

The salary for an emergency nurse ranges from $25.00 per hour to $35.00 per hour and varies depending on years of experience as well as certifications you have. While I wouldn’t turn down a raise, I can’t complain about my salary, and I’m easily able to live a comfortable lifestyle.

I’m able to arrange my schedule as I wish and can take as much time off as I want to, within reason. Most hospitals don’t offer x number of weeks a year off, rather you earn vacation hours (paid time off or PTO hours).

At a minimum, you must have an associate’s degree in nursing and licensed in the state you want to work; of course, the more education you have the better. Also, it is important to become certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Live Support.

I would tell a friend to go for it, the job is worth it. 

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