3 Tips for New ER Nurses


License: Creative Commons

Being an emergency room nurse is not easy. It is a psychologically, emotionally and physiologically demanding job that not every nurse can perform well. However, there are some ways to help ease an emergency nurse’s burden. These methods can turn a hectic and difficult day in the emergency room into a shift filled with accomplishments and rewards. These three tips will aid new emergency room nurses in creating a healthier and more productive working environment.

Relaxation Techniques

This may sound unlikely in chaotic situations like the emergency room. People may think of relaxation techniques as something they do during leisure time or when trying to rest from the day’s work. However, keeping calm and relaxed is an important factor for nurses in the emergency room.

New ER nurses should prepare themselves for the worst before they step into the field. They should keep in mind that this area of a hospital is not like the medical/surgical floors that have fixed plans for the day, however it is understood that no matter the setting or situation an event can occur at any moment. In the ER, patients can come and go fast. The patients may trickle in one by one or all at once depending on the situation. For large scale trauma situations, patients can come in groups, which initially may seem impossible to handle for a new ER professional.

This is why new nurses should have their own unique relaxation techniques. This can involve deep breathing exercises or taking a few seconds to clear one’s mind. These methods can help new nurses in coping with the chaotic situations in the work area. These will also help nurses in thinking clearly and not making mistakes that can put themselves, other staff members, or their patients’ health at risk.

Proper Buffer

Although we may often not agree to the term “war” when it comes to providing healthcare services, there is still the perception that an ER might feel like a battlefield. A new nurse should establish a healthy buffer in order to successfully carry out their tasks for the day. This includes having a perfectly fit mind and attitude. New nurses should know that working in an ER can be psychologically and emotionally challenging, but it is very rewarding with the right goals in mind. They should love what they are doing in order to maintain a healthy working character.

A healthy and well-prepared body is also essential. The ER doesn’t often promote an environment where nurses can wait for the next scheduled medication, patient assessment, or routine procedure. This area requires nurses to actively involve themselves in emergency cases. A new (and even an experienced) nurse should invest in being fit both body and mind. They should have had enough sleep and rest in order to fully recharge from the previous day’s work. Nurses should also fuel their bodies with the right nutrients in order to maximize their potential. Consider getting protein from lean meats, beans, and low-fat dairy products. Choose complex carbohydrates from fruit and vegetable sources rather than carbs that come from simple sugars that are in many processed foods.

Ask For Help

New nurses in the emergency room may find the work overwhelming and even unproductive at times. Some end up not performing well or not completing a task during hectic times. Any person who has just started working in a particular situation has a difficult time finding his or her way at first. It can be hard to digest all the factors and stressors that the work may bring. This is particularly true in high stress areas such an emergency room.

New nurses can’t predict what their first day will be like, and even though a new nurse will have an extensive orientation and a preceptor, it can still be challenging just getting to know the work area and colleagues. It can also be challenging to acclimate to the ebb and flow of patients coming through those ER doors. These factors add to the problems that new ER nurses may have in their first few months. Even when a new nurse comes off of orientation, it is still encouraged to ask for help from senior nurses or colleagues. This goes without saying no matter how many years of experience a nurse has. New nurses should remember that their colleagues are there to help them in their transition. It is always best to admit to an inability to perform a task due to a lack of knowledge or experience than to make a mistake that can have irreversible consequences.

Remember, invest in your own self-care, know who your resources are, and never be ashamed to ask for help. These tips will help promote a sustainable ER career.

Sally Freeman is an ER nurse and guest author at Accelerated-BSN.net, where she contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Online Accelerated BSN Degree Programs.


  1. sfreddson2156 on November 21, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    My dad used to work in the ER when he was in med school. He had a hard time at first coping with all the extreme situations. He talked about using relaxation tips that were similar to the ones that you posted and said they helped. Thanks for sharing these tips! http://www.travelmd.com

  2. Jeffybridge on April 30, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    I’m not a nurse but I have always been interested in what it would be like to work in the ER. It sounds like a stressful job, especially starting out. I’m sure relaxation is key in order to stay focused when there is a lot going on.

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