I finally got to do a shift in the ER! Although, I don’t think it is where I want to specialize in ER nursing, but every nursing student (Or med student) should try to get in there. They are often referred to as the “Jack of all trades, and the master of none”. Their speciality is triaging patients to either D/C or transfer them to the “masters of the specialty” like GI, surgery, near, etc.


Here’s why:

  1. You learn to that the initiative

    In the ER, nurses try to be good about getting the nursing students in on the action, but sometimes it’s not their priority when someone’s life is on the line. If you want to get in on the action, YOU need to step in. It makes all the difference in your learning experience. If you over hear an MD or nurse talking about a cool procedure that’s about to happen, ask if you can step in! It has made the difference between myself and my classmates getting in on their first cardioversion or watching the minutes tick by on the clock. I really wanted to get my IV starts down so I told my nurse I wanted to do any IVs she had! Establish what your learning objectives are from the beginning and most nurses will try to accommodate.
  2. You get to try/see a little bit of everything!

    LITERALLY! So far, I have had little practice with the more invasive skills because I have only been practicing on med/surg floors. This is common for many nursing students. However, in the ED I got to:
    • Practice 7 IV starts (I got 5 of them!)
    • Hang a TON of bolus NS bags (and learn how to “burp” it to prevent bubbles)
    • See a bedside lumbar puncture to test for meningitis
    • See sutures done on a puncture wound
    • See how a victim of suspected domestic violence is assessed differently
    • See carnitas removed from the lower esophagus via EGD
    • See maggots removed from a wound and how the wound is documented
  3. Get a taste of PRESSURE!

    Things move in waves in the ED! One moment, we were just sitting charting and all of a sudden things started moving FAST! It is great for you to not only get used to working under pressure, but seeing how the ED
  4. You get to put your triage, assessment, and critical thinking skills to the test.

    ED is the first point of contact. They need to stabilize the patient enough to send discharge to figure our what department to send them to. These nurses have excellent assessment skills. Each question they ask out loud has and immense amount of critical reasoning behind it. They have to figure out what is going on with such little information. The patient often doesn’t know what relevant information to give, and it is important to see how these nurses play detective to find out how help this patient.