Trauma Nurse

A trauma nurse is a nurse who specializes in acute emergency care involving severe trauma. They usually work in an emergency room (ER Nurse), critical care unit, or perhaps for a transport company that specializes in transporting critical patients to the nearest hospital. A flight nurse would be an example of a trauma nurse working for a transport company.

Trauma nurses need to be able to work calmly under pressure, in chaotic, quickly changing environments. Trauma nurses also need to have excellent evaluation skills, to assess patients who might have multiple wounds and prioritize what needs the most immediate attention. Because they specialize in emergency care, they can see patients of all ages and backgrounds, and treat any kind of injury. Trauma nurses not only assist the physicians, but carefully monitor vital signs, watch for complications, and communicate with family. Trauma nurses usually need to be familiar with Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) which is course administered by the American College of Surgeons and is a basic guideline for how to handle a severely injured patient.

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Trauma Nursing Education

If this sounds like a nursing path that is for you, you need to first find the right nursing program. The first step toward any nursing specialty is to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). There a few different paths toward becoming an RN. You can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or associate of science in nursing (ASN), which takes only two to three years. You can also earn a nursing diploma from a hospital program in just two to three years, although this option is becoming increasingly less common. Ideally, your best bet is to earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), which will help make you much more competitive in the trauma nursing job market. Other options are first earning a diploma or associate degree, which can be a stepping stone toward later earning a bachelor’s degree through one of the many online rn to bsn programs offered throughout the country. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject area, you can look for an accelerated bsn nursing program, which will take about two years to complete. Nursing programs will cover many science and health related subjects, in addition to clinical lab training in hospitals or clinics. In addition to nursing related topics, you will study subjects like chemistry, psychology, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. When you graduate from an accredited nursing program, you must take the NCLEX-RN, which is the National Council Licensure Examination as a final step in becoming a nurse in most states.

Trauma Nurse Certification

Trauma nurse certification is also available through various professional organizations. There are a few options and it is advised that you consult with your facility regarding which trauma nurse certification would be the best fit for you. Becoming certified as a trauma nurse specialist (TNS) is an option once you start your career. Or, you could become a certified emergency nurse (CEN) through the Board of Certification in Emergency Nursing. Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) administered by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) is a 16-hour course presented over a two day period. Trauma nurse certification is usually voluntary in nursing, but most competitive employers view it as a necessity. Trauma nurse certification shows that you are committed to your field and provides a greater sense of confidence when presented with trauma or ER scenarios that are often very chaotic feeling for the non-seasoned nurse or doctor. It also proves to employers and co-workers that your knowledge is current, and is in line with national standards. Trauma nurse certification is usually sought once you have worked for a year or two, and it requires a fee and passing an examination, in addition to a current nursing license. You must recertify every few years, depending on your certification, by retaking the exam or taking continuing education courses.

Trauma Nurse Salary

Trauma nurses earn on the higher end of salary ranges for RNs. According to salary, the average salary for trauma nurses in major cities ranges from $80,000 to $128,000. Nationally, the average salary is $58,000, according to
The outlook for this specialty is very good. Nursing in general is a very fast growing career, and specially trained nurses tend to be in even higher demand due to their additional training and skills. This can be a stressful and demanding nursing path, but also a thrilling and very rewarding one. If you think you are ready to rise to this challenging nursing path and excel, start by finding the right nursing school if you are not yet a nurse or find a certification program if you are already a registered nurse. Earning a master’s degree is also an option that some nurses choose to pursue while in this field of nursing, which allows them to take their career into management, advanced practice or related fields of trauma nursing.

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(Sources: Society of Trauma Nurses, Emergency Nurses Association)