what is an emergency department nurse?

As an emergency department nurse, you help patients who require immediate medical attention. You usually handle patients with trauma, severe injuries or acute-onset symptoms and provide immediate medical attention. Most patients in an emergency room have life-threatening conditions, so it's important to think critically and methodically to identify patients' problems and stabilise them quickly. You are exposed to patients with critical conditions, such as victims of car accidents and heart attack patients.

Aside from stabilising patients, you also document their medical histories, allergies, and medications provided during treatment. You speak to families about patients’ conditions and treatment plans and provide support during end-of-life. When patients don’t need to be admitted to the hospital, you handle the discharge paperwork and provide follow-up recommendations for continued care.

Most emergency department nurses work in hospitals or healthcare clinics. However, you will also find emergency nurses in schools, cruise ships or mining communities that provide essential care in emergencies. As an emergency department nurse, you should be empathetic and compassionate. Emergency rooms are busy and involve high-stress situations, and the ability to remain calm under pressure is crucial.

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average emergency department nurse salary

The typical remuneration package of an emergency department nurse is $97,500 per year. At the beginning of your career, you have minimal experience, which lowers your salary expectations. At an entry-level position, you earn a salary of $80,500 per year. Your earnings increase gradually with experience and expertise, and you can earn over $135,000 annually.

what factors affect your salary as an emergency department nurse?

Your remuneration package as an emergency nurse mainly depends on your experience and competencies. As an emergency department nurse, you handle all types of medical emergencies, and the more experience you have, the better your remuneration. Having additional qualifications or specialisations also boosts your earnings, thanks to the extensive knowledge you have in the field. The complexity of your duties and the size of the healthcare facility you work for also improve your remuneration prospects.

Your working location also significantly influences your remuneration package. Working in metro areas or large cities improves your earning prospects, resulting from the high demand for emergency nurses. Metro areas also experience numerous emergencies, which increases your working hours. Smaller towns or rural areas have a lower demand for emergency nurses, which reduces your earnings.

Want to know what you will earn as an emergency department nurse? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of emergency department nurses

Emergency departments have numerous sub-specialities that you can specialise in. For instance, as a trauma emergency nurse, you work in trauma centres and handle trauma patients brought in by ambulances. A triage emergency nurse sorts patients as they enter the emergency department. You group patients based on vital signs, complaints, and the resources available in the emergency room (ER). As a code nurse, you run the code room, where critical patients receive treatment. Your job involves handling patients with no pulse or who aren't breathing.

As a paediatric emergency nurse, you triage patients under 18 years old. You are likely to work in a paediatric hospital or a general hospital, handling trauma and emergency cases involving neonates or teens.

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working as an emergency department nurse

If you are interested in working as an emergency department nurse, let’s explore the specific duties, responsibilities and work environments.


education and skills

To become an emergency department nurse in Australia, complete a bachelor’s degree and register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). Pursue a bachelor of nursing degree, which takes four years of coursework and includes clinical placement. Upon completion, register with the NMBA or Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and start gaining work experience as a registered nurse.

You require at least a year of experience working as a registered nurse and a Triage Certificate to become an emergency department nurse. Since your duties involve resuscitation, you require Advanced Life Support (ALS) certification. Having postgraduate certification in acute care nursing or a diploma in emergency nursing from a technical and further education (TAFE) centre demonstrates your skills and ability to work as an emergency nurse.

emergency department nurse skills and competencies

If you want to excel as an emergency department nurse, you should hone the following essential skills:

  • critical thinking skills: as an emergency department nurse, you deal with tough medical emergencies that require quick thinking. Your critical thinking ability helps you analyse patients’ situations accurately and make the best decision during triage.
  • empathy: as an emergency department nurse, your ability to view situations from another person’s point of view is invaluable. Your empathetic approach to patients struggling with various illnesses helps you provide high-quality care.
  • computer skills: as an emergency department nurse, you rely on medical technology to monitor vital signs, check patient records and access test results. You need computer skills to access patient information and operate medical equipment used in the emergency room. Being tech-savvy also helps you assist with telemedicine and guide other nurses on various procedures.
  • attention to detail: as an emergency department nurse, you are tasked with a broad range of complex duties. Being detail-oriented ensures patients receive the right treatments and medications. Your attentiveness to details also helps you pay attention to the changing patients’ symptoms.
  • teamwork skills: as an emergency nurse, you work as part of a larger medical team. Having good interpersonal and teamwork skills helps you interact with other healthcare staff in a friendly and productive manner. Teamwork skills also promote collaboration.

FAQs about working as an emergency department nurse

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an emergency department nurse.

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