The careers and specializations of nurses can range from caring for elderly or neonatal patients, to working in clinics and hospitals and everywhere in between. One of the most challenging roles for a nurse to fulfill is working within a trauma department or emergency room of a hospital, where nursing skills are put to the test in order to stabilize patients and provide the best medical care possible to save lives when time, knowledge and a composed manner are all critical factors in a patient’s outcome.
Trauma nurses are called to provide life-saving medical treatments to patients that have been injured in vehicle accidents, in the home or at work, or who may be experiencing a variety of mental, emotional or physical complications that impact a normal ability to function and require rapid medical intervention. These patients may be unable to communicate, or can arrive to an emergency department unconscious, leading the nursing and medical staff with little information about what treatment to provide. A skilled RN can provide care for these patients based from the experience and education provided through a nursing program or online nursing school.
A nurse in a trauma department or emergency room is responsible for accessing a patient's vital signs, including pulse, blood pressure and temperature. Trauma nurses must also be able to start IV lines in veins, provide care for wounds and stabilize patients while helping doctors and other staff produce a treatment plan that prioritizes injury and health concerns. Being able to treat a patient in an emergency situation requires calm, focus and knowledge, as well as the ability to communicate effectively with the trauma team, family members or loved ones, and any other medical departments or facilities involved in the injured patient’s care.
The activity within an emergency room or trauma department is active, but not necessarily a non-stop, life-saving environment. Trauma nurses are not only called upon to provide superior medical care in life-threatening situations, but also help with less critical medical care including psychiatric or drug-related problems. These nurses may experience a variety of different situations on any given shift, and must be able to respond to traumatic injuries or flu outbreaks with the same focus and attention to detail in order to provide the best medical care possible.
Becoming an emergency room or trauma nurse requires an RN license, as well as a certification in different emergency situations. Beyond the hospital, a trauma nurse can work on an ambulance or "life flight" helicopter or urgent care facility. Many of these nurses work in underserved areas in other countries, providing care to populations that experience violent acts daily. For the nurse that enjoys a challenging and ever-changing work environment, specializing in trauma or emergency care provides not only the excitement of saving lives, but also the ability to make a difference in the lives of those facing traumatic injuries.