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What Skills Does an Emergency Room Nurse Need?

Did you know that the most recent numbers from the CDC state that there are around 130 million visits to emergency rooms every year? Now, those numbers have likely changed some with the pandemic; however, they still speak to the same thing, there’s a need for trained medical staff to work in emergency rooms. 

If you’re a nurse and interested in becoming an emergency room nurse, there is opportunity. However, to become an emergency room nurse, you will need specific skills to be successful. 

These skills go beyond the basic and will help you excel in your role. Keep reading if you want to find out if you have what it takes to become an ER nurse. 

Emergency Room Nurse Skills

When we discuss skills needed, it goes beyond what you will learn when you train to be an emergency room nurse at school. These skills will be addressed, and they are important, but not every skill can be taught in emergency room nurse training. 

Some skills are learned through life experience. When we discuss skills today, we will discuss two categories of skills:

  1. Hard skills
  2. Soft skills

To be successful in emergency room nursing, you will need a blend of hard and soft skills. 

Hard Skills

Hard skills are job-related abilities and knowledge you need to do your job correctly and effectively. These skills are ones that you can learn in the classroom. 

You will often see that a person has these skills on their resume or CV. 

Clinical Skills

This might be one of the most obvious answers to this question. However, your clinical skills are essential in the emergency room, and this part is important because there’s often no room for error. 

The emergency room is a fast environment, and often, people’s lives are on the line. You need to have a solid grasp of a variety of clinical skills, including:

  • Taking vitals
  • Placing IVs
  • Prepping patients for procedures
  • Basic life support
  • Advanced cardiovascular life support
  • Telemetry

In addition, those are just the basic skills you will need. Because the ER gets every case, you need to be prepared for many possible scenarios. 

Technology Skills

The world is going digital, and the medical field is following suit. You need to have the technology skills required to operate tech used for patients and to complete your charting. 

However, in the ER, it’s not enough to simply have these skills. The information you gather on your patients will need to be put into the system quickly so all involved parties can review it and make decisions. 

Soft Skills

Soft skills are more challenging to see; these are the skills that help you thrive in the workplace. Many of these skills relate to your personality. 

These skills are not quantitative but qualitative and more difficult to measure. However, you need many soft skills when working in the ER.  


The ability to multitask is important for any nurse, but it’s essential for an emergency room nurse. While there is a limit on how much you should multitask, there are situations where this skill will be invaluable. 


In the emergency room, as a nurse, you need the ability to communicate with your patients and with their families. Your communication skills should be at a level where your patients feel heard, and you’re able to adequately educate them as well. 

There are ways you can do this, and while some people might be able to put patients and families at ease through the way they communicate, for others, it could be a challenge. Here’s the good news, this is one soft skill that can be taught. 


Not only do you move from patient to patient quickly in the emergency room, but things change quickly. It’s essential to have the ability to be flexible. 

Time Management

Did you become a nurse because you want to help people? That’s not uncommon, and it’s a great thing. However, if you spend all night in one patient’s room, your other patients get neglected. 

Time management is an essential skill to have as a nurse. You need to be able to balance your desire to talk to your patient and hear them with the fact that you have other patients and each of your patients has different medical needs. 


Working on any floor in the hospital is stressful, but in the ER, the stress goes to a new level. You are meeting your patients in some of the scariest moments of their lives. 

If you allow the stress to get to you, you can’t help them. You need the ability to handle a crisis and stay calm in the face of chaos when you work in the emergency room. 


In the emergency room, you will be working with lab techs, aides, doctors, phlebotomists, x-ray techs, and more. When you’re working with that many people, it’s essential to have the ability to collaborate.


You need to know what you need and be able to ask for it in the emergency room. When you need something, it’s vital that you can express that, so you are understood and heard. Having the ability to be assertive will make you the best advocate for your patient. 

Strong Handle on Emotions

The families and patients you are working with will likely be scared. And, you might have a strong emotional reaction to some scenarios. 

However, you need the ability to handle your emotions at the moment. While you can be empathetic, you can’t allow your emotions to keep you from doing your job. 

Coping Skills

At the end of the day, you’ll head home, and it’s likely you will have stress and emotions leftover from the day. It’s important to have coping skills in place to help you handle those feelings. 

If you don’t practice self-care as a nurse, you won’t be able to continue going back day after day. The job is emotionally and physically draining, and you need time to breathe and reset. 

Start Your Journey as an Emergency Room Nurse

Do you have what it takes to be an emergency room nurse? There are a lot of hard and soft skills you need to excel, but the world needs you. 

If you’re ready to learn where you fit as a nurse, join Thornbury Nursing Services and let us help you find your next assignment.

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