Emergencies happen every day, from natural disasters to medical emergencies. They upend people’s lives or even end them. People in crisis need to have somewhere to turn.
You might be shocked by how many emergencies happen each year. The CDC reports that there are 130 million visits to the emergency room every 12 months. That doesn’t include deaths or other accidents where patients don’t end up in the ER.
In many cases, that place is the hospital. People who suffer heart attacks, strokes, severe wounds, sudden illnesses, and broken bones need medical attention right away. Those who work in the emergency department must be ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency healthcare workers had to cope with even more challenges. This has prompted many hospitals to rethink their emergency preparedness protocols and ensure that their staff members are properly trained.
If you would like to work in the emergency department of a hospital, regardless of your job title, you need to understand what you can expect. The emergency sector can be extremely demanding—but also extremely fulfilling.
What It Takes To Work In An Emergency Department
Despite what you see on TV, most people who come into the emergency room aren’t about to bleed to death. Medical emergencies cover a wide range of situations, from deep cuts to heart attacks. More minor injuries and illnesses are the most common reason people head to the emergency room.
With that said, there are cases involving life-threatening injuries and illnesses. You will never know what to expect when you work in the emergency department. For some people, that’s ideal—they really enjoy doing something different every day and working with all kinds of patients. If you have trouble working under pressure, though, the emergency room isn’t the place for you.
Emergency room workers need to be ready for anything. You must be adaptable and able to think on your feet. It’s also important to have a thick skin and the ability to make decisions quickly. It’s not for everyone, but it can be very satisfying to go to work every day and help people get through some very bad situations.
Emergency Room Roles
If you want to work in an emergency room as a medical professional, there are several different roles to consider, with different requirements. Some essential emergency personnel include:
Obviously, doctors play an extremely critical role in emergency room care. They diagnose patients’ immediate health concerns and create treatment plans. In many cases, they must work quickly for patients in crisis.
Becoming a doctor is a huge commitment. However, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, few careers can be more fulfilling.
Emergency Room Nurses and Crisis Nurses
Nurses are some of the most essential personnel in the emergency room. They provide direct care for patients and perform triage duties, deciding which patients need care most urgently.
Depending on the emergency department and its needs, nurses may have a wide range of responsibilities. They work with physicians to keep the department running smoothly and to ensure high-quality patient care. They also help families prepare for emergencies.
Some emergency room nurses specialize in crisis nursing. Crisis nurses are trained to come into a hospital environment during a natural disaster or pandemic and provide extra help for facilities that are understaffed and over capacity. They are traveling nurses specifically trained to help in crisis situations.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
Nursing assistants are responsible for a range of tasks in the emergency room, including helping patients with routine tasks and helping nurses and doctors. Although specialized training is needed to become a CNA, only a high school diploma or GED is required to train for this career.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
Before they even get to the hospital, patients are cared for by EMTs. These medical professionals rush to the scene whenever someone is badly injured or seriously ill and transport them safely to the hospital. They may stabilize the patient on the scene before bringing them back to the facility. EMTs must be certified.
Although doctors, nurses, EMTs, and nursing assistants are the most obvious members of the emergency department team, there are some other good career options. Imaging technicians are needed in emergency departments to help make diagnoses and can help save lives.
Administrative roles are also important within the emergency department. Direct patient care isn’t the only option!
Emergency Care: A Noble Path For the right people, emergency care can be an exciting and interesting career that allows them to make a difference in the lives of people in crisis. For others, it’s a recipe for burnout. It’s important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses before you choose a career path. But one thing is certain: working in the emergency department is never boring!