As an LPN there are a number of options open to you when it comes to deciding what your specialization in the field will be. One of those options is to become an Emergency / Trauma Nurse. An emergency or trauma nurse is one that deals with patients that have suffered a traumatic event, such as a car accident, and who are in a critical condition. There are a number of things to keep in mind when considering this specialization.
What Is An Emergency/Trauma Nurse?
To be a trauma/emergency nurse you have to have an RN qualification. So you, as an LPN, have a few steps to take in order to become qualified in this regard. A trauma nurse is one that deals with emergency medical situations that arrive at the emergency room of the healthcare facility or hospital where you work. Before you will be able to specialize in this field you will have to have sent a great many years working in ICU or in the ER in order to have enough experience in the field. It is a highly stressful and emotional job that does not suit everyone.
Nature of the Work/Duties
There are a number of basic things that you will have to do if you choose to advance from your current role as an LPN to that of an RN with specialization in trauma nursing:
- You will be the first person to see the patient you will therefore need to be able to respond quickly and accurately to the emergency situation as it presents itself
- After the initial response period is over and the patient is handed over the trauma nurse must assess the patient and provide other professionals with a plan of action moving forward
- Your responsibilities as a trauma nurse will include stabilizing the patient
- A trauma nurse is responsible for preparing equipment that the doctor will need to see to the patient
- Last but not least you will be require to communicate with the patient’s family
There are several employment opportunities out there for trauma nurses as there are for professionals in all walks of the health care profession. In every state you will find great opportunities open to you. Generally speaking trauma nurses are employed in hospitals and on ambulances predominantly. These are fast-paced settings that you will need to be prepared to handle and keep up with in your daily tasks as a trauma nurse. If you have the necessary qualifications, you will find getting a job in a trauma room to be easy enough. Hospitals will often take any RN, but if you have the specialization certification you will stand out as an expert in the field and will be considered for jobs first in emergency care settings.
Emergency/Trauma Nurse Requirements
In order to become a trauma nurse there are a number of requirements that you will have to meet. The educational and experience requirements are considered to be the most important of these requirements. You have to have attained a certain level of education before you can become a trauma room nurse. In addition you also need to have completed a specific number of years of experience in the field of emergency nursing. However, something that a lot of nurses do not realize, is that you personality plays an important role in your ability to do this job, and you therefore need to consider the various personality requirements as well. Becoming a trauma nurse is something that you will have to gradually build your way up to.
There are a number of personality traits that you will need if you want to advance to the level of an emergency nurse:
- Firstly you need to be able to keep a cool head and think on your feet, making judgments as quickly as possible. In an emergency situation there will not be a lot of time to think.
- You will need to be detail oriented in order to make the best decisions, but not so focused on detail that you take too long to make a decision.
- You will need to be able to balance your compassion for the patient with the objectivity that is required to help them.
- It is essential that you are able to work well in a team.
As mentioned previously, you have to be an RN in order to become a trauma nurse. So, there are a few educational steps that you will have to go through:
- Get your high school diploma
- Enter an LPN program and become a licensed and qualified LPN
- Enter an RN degree program and become a licensed and qualified RN
- Get your high school diploma
- Enter a four year RN degree program (and skip the LPN step)
To become an RN you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination that will allow you to apply for licensing. You also need to ensure that the program through which you train is a genuine and accredited one that can be trusted.
There are a few steps to achieving your trauma nurse license:
- Become a nurse and earn either and associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school
- Sit the required national examinations
- Become a licensed nurse and get work experience
- On the job training and perhaps some theory training will need to be completed
- Work in the ER and sit the exam to become a Certified Emergency Nurse
- Train to become a trauma nurse through the American Emergency Nursing Association course (the Trauma Nurse Core Course)
As you can see becoming a licensed emergency/trauma nurse is not something that you will be able to do without a considerable time commitment to the process involved.
How To Become An Emergency/Trauma Nurse
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
There are a number of education options open to you to become a trauma nurse. You can engage in four or five years of study at a college or university, you can do one year of training to become a Licensed Practiced Nurse (LPN) and use it as a stepping stone, doing an LPN to RN bridge program, you can do a two year program in a junior or community college, combined with some hospital training to become an LPN on your way to becoming a fully fledged RN who can specialize, or you can do a three year program run by a hospital or school based on nursing. Remember that as a trauma nurse you can also advance your career to a management position.
Source An Accredited Education Program
You absolutely have to attend an accredited emergency/trauma nurse training program if you want to become certified. There are two professional bodies that offer certified programs:
- The Emergency Nurses Association
- The Society of Trauma Nurses
A good program will include the following essential coursework and training:
- Initial assessment of patients
- Shock and disaster management
- Mechanisms of injury
- How to treat trauma to specific areas of the body
- How to treat pregnant, elderly and pediatric trauma patients
If these aspects are not covered in the program the chances are higher that the program is not in fact accredited. If the program is not accredited your qualifications will not be taken seriously and your certification will most likely not go through.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Once you have found a school that meets all of the above mentioned requirements for accreditation you will need to get to work earning your associate’s degree (although many schools will offer a bachelor’s degree instead of an associate’s degree). An associate’s degree can take a number of years to complete and will require both theoretical and hands-on practical training before you can pass the program and receive your degree at the end of the day. This is the minimum educational requirement that you will need in order to be a licensed trauma nurse. You could also, for example, go as far as earning your master’s degree and becoming a real expert in the field, and perhaps even teaching the skills involved to other nurses.
Get your License
To get your license as a trauma nurse you will need to:
- Work in a trauma nursing setting as much as possible to get experience
- Take courses to keep your skill level up, such as the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) that is offered by the Emergency Nurses Association
- Write an exam to get certification relevant to trauma nursing, such as the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) certification
- Get your master’s degree as this will give you a further edge when it comes to competing for a job in the trauma nursing field – the more qualifications you have and the higher your level of training, the better your chances of getting your dream job
Online/Distance Education Programs
When training to be an LPN with a specialization in emergency or trauma room nursing you may come across training programs that offer the course online. There are some advantages to this:
- You will be able to work at your own pace and according to your own schedule
- It tends to be cheaper
- It tends to be more flexible
However, as with a brick and mortar school, you need to ensure that the online or distance education program is properly accredited.
There are several different online emergency/trauma nurse programs to choose from, such as the one offered by ENA (the Emergency Nurse Association). More information about this program can be found at the associations’ website: http://www.ena.org/coursesandeducation/education/triage/pages/Default.aspx
Emergency/Trauma Nurse Job Outlook
The job outlook for a trauma nurse is very good indeed, and it is a good job for an LPN to eventually aim for in their career. The field will grow as much as 23% from 2006 to 2016, which means that as time goes on there will be more jobs for trauma nurses available, not less. This expected growth is higher than what you would see in most other fields, making trauma nursing one of the safest jobs for you to aim for if job stability is an important aspect in your life. Once you have met the educational requirements for being a trauma nurse you will also have a number of advancement opportunities in management and teaching positions open to you in the nursing filed.
Emergency/Trauma Nurse Earnings
The hourly rate that you can expect to earn as an emergency/trauma nurse is in the region of 20.67 – $39.07 depending on a number of factors such as your experience and the state or city you work in. The average overtime that you should be paid is between $18.12 and $59.90, again depending on the aforementioned factors. Trauma nurses can receive anything from $0.00 to $2,531 as a bonus. The total pay that you could earn varies from about $43,404 to $86,694 a year. The cities that pay the highest hourly rates are:
- Oakland, California
- San Francisco, California
- Sacramento, California
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Modesto, California
- Orange, California
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- New Bedford, Massachusetts
- Fresno, California
- Portland, Oregon
- San Diego, California
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Phoenix, Arizona
- New York, New York
- Riverside, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Los Angeles, California
- Washington, District of Columbia
- Long Beach, California
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
There are, as you can see, a number of things for you to keep in mind if you intent to be an Emergency / Trauma Nurse. Perhaps the most important one mentioned here is the list of personality requirements. No matter how well trained you are for the job you will struggle to survive the emotional rollercoaster that the job brings with it if you do not have the right personality for the position. If you think you can handle the pressure, only then should you continue pursuing the specialization in this filed. If you do not think that you have what it takes you should perhaps consider an alternative option in the health care profession and in the LPN filed in particular.