Trauma Nurses Work in a Fast-Paced Environment

Trauma nurses work in emergency rooms and critical care units to treat patients who have serious and life-threatening medical conditions.

Job Duties

While trauma nurses are treating patients, they must work quickly because the first hour (known as the golden hour) between the injury or illness and the stabilizing surgery is important since it gives the patient the best chance for a positive outcome. If treatment takes longer, chances of a good outcome decrease. Job duties include:

  • Preparing patients for diagnostic testing or surgery
  • Stabilizing patients before other issues arise such as shock or respiratory failure
  • Inserting IVs
  • Drawing blood
  • Administering medication
  • Updating families on their loved one’s condition
  • Monitoring patients for any changes

Trauma Nurses

Who is This a Good Career For?

Working as a trauma nurse is a great career choice for people who can keep up in a fast-paced, high-pressure, and unpredictable environment. They also need to have excellent critical thinking skills, emotional stability, and physical stamina.


To become a trauma nurse, students need to complete a registered nurses program by earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Depending on the program, prerequisites may consist of a background check, drug test, and courses such as Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Nutrition, while core courses may include Specialized Healthcare Needs, Health Assessment, and Health Deviations. Students who wish to work as a trauma nurse practitioner will need to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree.


Passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is required to obtain a license which is mandatory in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. It is also required before students can enroll in a master’s degree program.


There are no requirements regarding certification, though it gives nurses better job prospects and higher wages. One way to do this is to pass the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) Examination administered by the Board of Certifications of Emergency Nursing. Certification is good for four years and continuing education is necessary to maintain it. The Emergency Nurses Association offers the Trauma Nursing Core Course that has classes such as Abdominal Trauma, Brain and Cranial Trauma, Thoracic Trauma, Transition of Care for the Trauma Patient, Disaster Management, and Initial Assessment.

Qualities all Nurses Should Have:

Compassion – It is important for nurses to have concern and sympathy for others, especially patients who are seriously ill or injured.

Empathy – This means the ability and willingness to share in the feelings of others.

Communication Skills – These skills include speaking and listening and it’s important for nurses to follow directions as well as understand the needs of patients and their families.

Good Attention to Detail – It’s imperative that nurses remember to write each patient’s treatment and medications in their chart and administer medication at the appropriate time.

Interview Questions

Just like most careers, trauma nurses will have an interview before being hired. Questions may include:

  • How do you maintain accurate and detailed information?
  • Can you share an experience in which you successfully coordinated with others?
  • Is analyzing data or information one of your strengths?
  • How would you rate your writing skills?
  • Can you share an experience in which you observed nurses?
  • Can you provide a time when a situation tested your ethics?

Job Outlook and Salary

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to increase 23% through 2016. Job prospects should be excellent for trauma nurses, especially those who have experience. The openings will result from the need to replace trauma nurses who are transferring, retiring, or leaving the profession for other reasons. The average annual salary in 2015 is $60,000, though it varies due to location, education, employer, and industry.

To learn more or to find an accredited program that’s right for you, please contact us.