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How do I Become a Trauma Nurse?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Trauma nurses help physicians provide urgent care for patients with severe injuries and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Professionals aid in diagnostic testing, clean open wounds, administer medications, and assist with emergency surgical procedures. A person who wants to become a trauma nurse usually needs to obtain a college degree, pass a regional or national licensing examination, and gain practical experience in the field. Many hospitals require prospective trauma nurses to participate in continuing education programs and pass specialized certification tests before they can work independently in emergency rooms or intensive care units.

The first step to become a trauma nurse in most countries is earning an associate's or bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Most hopeful trauma nurses enroll in four-year bachelor's degree programs in order to learn more about the profession and improve their chances of finding work immediately after finishing school. During nursing school, a student learns about medical terminology, human anatomy, and basic health-care practices. Most programs allow students to participate in internships at local hospitals to gain important firsthand experience under the guidance of established nurses.

After earning a degree, a person who wants to become a trauma nurse can take a written exam to earn registered nurse certification. He or she can apply for staff nurse positions at emergency rooms and critical care centers to gain experience working with trauma patients. Working in an emergency room can be very stressful, and a new nurse can usually decide quickly whether he or she really wants to become a trauma nurse. Some nurses determine they are more suited for less hectic nursing settings, but a nurse who can handle the stress can choose to stay and pursue advanced credentials.

Since the requirements to become a trauma nurse vary by region, an experienced registered nurse should explore the specific qualifications needed in his or her area. A professional usually needs to take continuing education classes at a college or hospital training center to gain a detailed understanding of trauma nursing. After completing the required courses, an individual can take a certification test administered by an accredited national organization to earn specific trauma or emergency room nurse credentials.

With the appropriate certification, a nurse typically enjoys many opportunities for employment. Many professionals decide to take additional part-time courses or enroll in graduate school programs to further improve their credentials and create new possibilities for advancement. Experienced nurses often assume supervisory roles in emergency care settings, overseeing the work of other trauma nurses, setting schedules, and performing important policy-making duties.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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