Female nurses continue to dominate the nursing industry, making up around 94 percent of all nurses. For those 6 percent of male nurses, many gravitate toward working as emergency room nurses because the job requires working independently and involves more of a hands-off approach than other nursing positions. But that does not mean that a female nurse cannot handle the stresses of working in the ER, and many do live up to the challenge of fulfilling the duties of an ER charge nurse.
Education and Training
Like other nursing specialties, ER charge nurses start their careers by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and passing the National Council Licensure Examination. After taking and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, the RN can find employment as an ER charge nurse and begin pursuing specialized education in emergency nursing. Though not a requirement for employment, certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing provides a nurse with the skills needed to advance into other nurse management positions. Certification requires working in an emergency room environment for at least two years and passing a certification test.
Patient Care Duties
An ER charge nurse assumes two main job duties, patient care and administrative. In the patient care role, the nurse performs triage on incoming patients, taking in the most ill and critically injured for treatment first. Patients coming to the ER may come in on their own or via ambulance or helicopter, and the charge nurse determines the severity of the injuries or illness, stabilizes the patients and determines the next cause of action for that patient. The charge nurse communicates with a patient's family, keeping them updated on the patient's condition.
Administrative and Management Duties
Along with caring for patients, the charge nurse in the ER oversees the entire department and ensures that all the various medical personnel work together to provide the best level of care to patients. Especially when the ER sees a large number of patients, the charge nurse manages the available resources, such as personnel and supplies, and distributes them as needed. The charge nurse assesses risk, responds to and solves issues that arise in the ER and provides a safe working environment for the entire department. Outside of the ER, a charge nurse may serve as a public educator, speaking to various groups of people on gun safety, domestic violence, alcohol awareness and proper child safety in cars and at home.
Work Environment and Neccesary Skills
Working in an ER requires a level head and a calm demeanor under pressure. Because a charge nurse serves two roles at once, she also faces the double the stress and must be able to handle the pressure. Like other ER personnel, the charge nurse may be exposed to highly contagious diseases and conditions and may also have deal with unruly patients. Along with education and training, ER charge nurses must possess certain skills and personal qualities. Skills needed by ER nurses include being detailed-oriented, highly organized and analytical. ER nurses must be able to make quick decisions in high-stress environments and exhibit compassion when working with patients.
Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb, Chron.com, and USAToday.com. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.