Emergency Room Nurse


What Does An Emergency Room Nurse Do?

Choosing a career as an emergency room nurse needs some strong qualities. To sum it up, a strong stomach, quick thinking, and decisive action are about the things you need to have when you assist doctors and supervise LVNs & emergency medical technicians in coping with emergency cases. Working in facilities for emergency care needs quick thinking to relieve pain and life-threatening trauma to every patient that walks in the door.

An ER nurse is a part of the health team composed of healthcare professionals, doctors, and other types of nurses. Working cooperatively together is the way to provide patients, to include:

  • the best health care
  • plan long-term needs
  • perform minor medical operations
  • administer medicine
  • monitor health conditions
  • Advise families of patients and patients on care, illness, and continued care after being discharged from the hospital.

All types of medical conditions that require urgent care needs the first line of defense provided by emergency rooms. The medical conditions range from allergic reactions to accidents. By working quickly, an ER nurse should be able to assess the needs of every patient in as little time as possible. By doing this, the ER nurse would be able to prioritize care based on the critical condition of the patient/s.

Treating the problem is the best and only way to stabilize a patient resulting in an early discharge after coping with the emergency. Arranging a longer hospital stay if the case calls for it is also one of the duties performed by an ER nurse.

Emergency Room Nurse Salary

The demand for highly trained ER nurses is constant. Accidents happening all over the world, on the work site, and at home need ER nurses to assess, prioritize the need, and stabilize victims of accidents.

Typically, an ER nurse earns an annual salary of around $62,010. It could also range from $46,710-$92,815. The determinant for ER nurse salaries is the work location.

As of April 2019, annual salaries for ER nurses in California are estimated to be around $101,477. However, ER nurse annual salaries in California are said to average $82,989 or normally range between $74,117 and $92,174.

Yet, across the United States, the current salary range of ER nurses is approximately $76,000 to $96,500. While an ER nurse average pay range has variations, it is very slight. This indicates that increased advancement or pay do not offer as many opportunities regardless of several years of experience and location.

Based on the national annual average salary, an ER nurse is expected to earn $90,970 per year. If taken into context, the annual earnings of $90,070 rank Emergency Room Nurses’ salaries as number 1 nationwide or in the whole 50 states.


Varied factors can affect the salary ranges for Emergency Room Nurses, to include:

  1. Location of the workplace
  2. Number of years experience as an ER nurse
  3. Education
  4. Additional skills
  5. Certifications

The state of California, as of 2019, is still the most populous state of the United States of America. With over 39.6 million residents, California is in position to offer the highest salary bracket for ER nurses.

The job description for an ER nurse to earn high salaries in California includes:

  • Providing professional nursing care in the ER to assigned patients
  • Triaging patient acute care
  • Prioritizing care based on patients’ social, physical, and psychological needs
  • Recording of patient medical histories
  • Performing varied diagnostic tests
  • Work with other medical professions as a way to develop a patient care plan
  • Administer medications
  • Assist doctors during emergency and examinations procedures
  • Monitor and operate medical equipment as needed
  • Record observations in the medical record of the patient
  • Observing the progress of the patient
  • Giving updates to attending physician as needed

An ER nurse applying for work in an emergency room setting in California need to show the following qualifications to be considered for the job:

  1. Graduate from an approved nursing program
  2. At least two years of experience as a medical surgical nurse
  3. Pass the NCLEX
  4. Licensing and/or certification for the specialized position is the most important requirement


Most nurses working in the emergency room are registered nurses. However, some hospitals in California, such as Kaiser Permanente, hire licensed vocational nurses, as well. If you’re currently an LVN, there are over 100 accredited LVN to RN programs in California. If you’re not yet a vocational nurse, you can search for LVN programs near you.

A Day In The Life Of An Emergency Room Nurse

Bloody patients carried on ambulances with blaring sirens are the most common image people have when it comes to the emergency room. Or another picture would be of a man in a stretcher clutching his chest because of pain from a heart attack.

However, a 12-hour shift for a registered nurse working for the emergency department is not all about life or death situation. Most cases that walk in the emergency room are not really a true emergency but more of acute care.

There are units dividing the ER, to include:

  • Trauma
  • Rapid response unit
  • Main ER
  • Triage
  • Minor emergency treatment area or META

However, a workday for an ER nurse is never ordinary. The survival of a patient, especially during the first stage of injury or illness, needs specialized rapid assessment and treatment from an ER nurse. The incredibly long shifts are all spent on remaining empathetic, calm, and efficient while multitasking as well.

There are a few breaks between shifts that often exceed 10 hours. Eating on the run while responding to patient needs or call lights are part of the routine.

There are a similar schedule ER nurses follow even when two days as an ER nurse is not the same. Mentally preparing for the chaos ahead and packing a lunch are the few moments taken by ER nurses before their shift begins. A briefing occurs before the start of the shift to convey information about the ER status and assigned patients.

The shift begins with the constant monitoring of patients and answering the questions asked by worried family members. The conditions that ER nurses encounter in a work day come with varying severity degrees ranging from a heart attack to a sore throat. Some of the top cases that are usually brought in for ER visits include:

  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Superficial injuries that do not affect organs or muscles
  • Sprains and strains
  • Upper-respiratory infections

Discharging a patient only brings temporary relief as another patient is likely to fill the vacancy.

How to become an Emergency Room Nurse

An RN or a licensed registered nurse is the first requirement before you can become an ER nurse. The steps to becoming an RN include:

  • A diploma from an approved nursing program
  • A 2 or 3-year associate degree in Nursing OR
  • A 4-year Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses

Becoming an RN is just the first step towards becoming an ER nurse. You still need to accomplish the following, to include:

  1. Additional training as an ER nurse
  2. Experience and/or advanced nursing courses in emergency room settings
  3. Pass the Certified Emergency Nurse Exam



Choosing an ER nurse career can be challenging and rewarding as well. If you’re currently a licensed vocational nurse, consider looking into one of the many LVN to RN programs.

An ER nurse is considered an important member of any medical team. They are the first line of defense in an emergency room setting when patients need them the most.

Get in touch with your local nursing education programs to find out more about a career as an ER nurse.