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How to Handle the Busyness of an Emergency Room


With the U.S. population growing – and aging – hospitals and their emergency departments will continue to get busier and busier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that ER visits across the nation now top 136.3 million per year.

The primary goal of an ER staff is to stabilize each patient’s condition by treating acute problems and then either discharging them or triaging them on to further medical or surgical care. The team is called upon to deliver timely, compassionate care in a critical setting, for individuals who present with everything from minor to life-threatening illnesses, injury or trauma.

Do You Have What It Takes?

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population have visited an ER at least once in a 12-month period. Of these patients:

  • Those aged 75 or older are increasingly more likely to come in for treatment.
  • As family income declines, the likelihood of visiting an ER grows.
  • People with Medicaid insurance benefits are the most apt to use emergency facilities.

Working in an ER, you can expect:

  • Longer patient wait times. You will have to help decide the priority order in which people are seen. This requires astute assessment skills, as well as calm rationality and a level head, even in the face of devastating tragedies.
  • The first point of contact to be a triage nurse. If this is your role, it falls on you to determine the severity and urgency of a patient’s condition.

ER work can be among the most rewarding and respected healthcare specialties. The experience you get will benefit you throughout your career, since you will see such a wide variety of cases and patients. And each day, you may have the chance to help heal, support and care for people of all ages and backgrounds. At the same time, you need:


In an ER, there is no way to predict the type of case that will come through the door at any given moment. The patient population requires quick and accurate assessment, and treatments ranging from simple advice to thrombolysis and CPR.


Most ER physicians are board certified in emergency medicine, which includes a requirement of a three to four-year ER residency. Others are board certified in internal medicine or family practice. RNS are BSN prepared and can choose to be certified in emergency nursing. Support caregivers typically complete approved educational programs to satisfy their specialty and licensing requirements.

The ability to handle stress

Patients and family members in the ER depend on you to remedy their traumatic situations. You need a thick skin to deal with people in pain, fatalities, and the emotional impact of seeing people at their worst and inevitably, losing patients.

As you chart the course of your career, consider partnering with Medicalpros Recruiting + Staffing, the Northwest leader in matching great candidates with leading healthcare employers. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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