ER Nurse Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

An ER Nurse, or Emergency Nurse, is in charge of providing healthcare to patients who urgently need treatment so that they can stabilize their vital signs and limit pain and discomfort. Their duties include identifying the needs of a patient, filling out charts and intake paper and collecting information and samples so they can run tests.

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ER Nurse duties and responsibilities

An ER Nurse’s duties and responsibilities are focused on giving timely care to their patients. In a fast-paced environment, ER Nurses have the responsibilities of:

  • Triage incoming patients based on level of injury or illness
  • Immediately stabilize incoming patients
  • Administer medication as instructed by physicians
  • Start intravenous lines, and set broken bones
  • Perform tracheotomies and intubations
  • Give patients stitches and sutures
  • Create and maintain incoming patient records
  • Work with team of emergency staff to help patients
  • Help transfer stable patients to other wings
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What does an ER Nurse do?

ER nurses work in hospital emergency rooms and urgent care clinics to address patient needs and perform emergency procedures. They assist Doctors during procedures and monitor patient vital signs to ensure they are able to handle different types of treatment. Some of the duties they might perform include cleaning and dressing wounds, inserting intravenous lines, drawing blood and administering medications. Nurses also help communicate with patients about their treatment plan and talk to them after a procedure to discuss the recovery process.  They attend to the general health and hygiene of patients who are admitted to the emergency room by changing bed pans, feeding patients and helping them bathe.

ER Nurse skills and qualifications

ER Nurses need an extensive set of hard skills, soft skills and qualifications, including:

  • Expert knowledge of emergency medicine
  • Active RN license
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment under pressure
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Exceptional multitasking and time-management skills
  • Ability to work closely with a team and patients
  • Willingness to continually learn the latest advancements in emergency medicine
  • Ability to place intravenous lines, set bones and perform other emergency medical tasks quickly and efficiently
  • Excellent interpersonal skills

ER Nurse salary expectations

An ER Nurse makes an average of $68,774 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

ER Nurse education and training requirements

ER Nurses need to be Registered Nurses. To become a Registered Nurse, candidates need to complete an associate or bachelor’s program in nursing. These programs give a mix of practical instruction and clinical experience. After earning a degree, candidates need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination- Registered Nurse. ER nurses undergo training through clinical experience in their nursing programs in addition to training as basic Registered Nurses. In addition to training, an ER Nurse needs an ER certification from a licensing body. 

ER Nurse experience requirements

ER Nurses should have at least three years of experience as a Registered Nurse before pursuing this position. This experience allows them to get comfortable with the position before moving into an emergency setting. ER Nurses working in a large hospital or leading others should have at least five years of experience in order to effectively manage others. 

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Frequently asked questions about ER Nurses


What is the difference between an ER Nurse and a Home Health Nurse?

ER Nurses and Home Health Nurses are both highly trained Registered Nurses, but ER Nurses work at a hospital while Home Health Nurses visit their clients in their home. ER Nurses often spend time treating emergent conditions and helping patients that are actively in danger from an acute issue like a wound or a seizure. Home Health Nurses provide ongoing care for patients with chronic health issues who have medical devices in their homes. Home Health Nurses can work in hospice care, attend to patients with disabilities and assist patients as they recover from an injury or illness at home.


What are the characteristics of a good ER Nurse?

Good ER Nurses need to have excellent stamina, focus and determination to provide excellent care to patients during long, stressful shifts. They should enjoy work in fast-paced environments and communicating with a team to accomplish complex goals. Successful ER Nurses also have a good bedside manner and spend time getting to know each patient so that they can offer nuanced treatment and learn about possible factors that influence their health. They are great communicators who can explain complex medical concepts in simple ways that patients understand without making them feel scared or nervous.


What are the daily duties of an ER Nurse?

ER Nurses can have busy shifts and slow shifts depending on the volume of patients who need care. During slow days, they perform more administrative tasks like charting and scheduling, while during busy days they spend more hands-on time with patients.  They assess patients, pass out medications, stock their supplies and update medical information. They escort patients to get scans or tests, pick the results up from the lab and interpret them or deliver them to doctors. Throughout the day ER nurses continually check up on patients and discharge those who have received all the care they need.  


What should you look for on an ER Nurse's resume?

An ER Nurse’s resume should reflect their experience in a support role in a medical environment. They should have completed their nursing certifications including hands-on experience shadowing experienced nurses. Nurses who are transitioning from another type of nursing to ER nursing should demonstrate experience in a high-stress environment and a passion for helping others on their resume.

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