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Emergency Room Nurse Certification

Learn about the job duties of registered nurses and nurse practitioners who work in the emergency room. Discover education, certification and licensure requirements.

What is an Emergency Room Nurse?

An emergency room nurse, or emergency nurse, works in a hospital emergency room or another type of acute care facility. As someone with this job title, you often will be the first medical professional to see a patient. There are two kinds of nurses who work in these environments: registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs have a wider scope of practice than RNs; for example, in most states, they can write prescriptions, order tests, diagnose patients and perform physical examinations.

E.R. Nurse Duties Seeing patients, writing prescriptions, diagnosing patients and performing physical examinations
Required Education Bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing and becoming a licensed RN; for emergency nurse practitioners, you need a master's degree in nursing with a focus emergency care
Certification Not required, but demonstrates skills and dedication to employers
Job Outlook (2016-2026)15% growth (for registered nurses)*
Median Salary (2018)$71,730 (for registered nurses)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become Certified?

To be an emergency nurse, you must first become a licensed RN. This involves graduating from a university or college with a bachelor's degree in nursing or receiving an associate's degree in nursing from a community or junior college. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all require graduation from an accredited nursing program and passage of a licensing examination.

Although specialized education is not required to work in an emergency room, some schools offer specialization programs in emergency nursing, either through a concentration within a nursing program or a certificate that can be earned by taking certain classes. Some of these courses can be taken online. Coursework is augmented by on-the-job experience in an emergency setting.

To become an emergency nurse practitioner, you must attain a master's degree in nursing with specialized education in acute or emergency care. These programs provide instruction in emergency room procedures and require a certain number of hours of hands-on clinical experience. Most require emergency room experience for admission to the program. Some programs are offered partly online and allow you to complete your clinical experience near your home.

How Does Certification Work?

To become a Certified Emergency Nurse at the RN level, you must pass an exam administered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (www.ena.org). Although certification is not required, it can demonstrate your skills and experience to potential employers. At the time of your certification exam, you must be licensed as an RN. It's also recommended that you have at least two years of experience in emergency nursing. Your certification is renewable every four years through continuing education or re-testing.

If you wish to become a certified emergency or acute care nurse practitioner, you can take the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) exam. To qualify, you must hold a graduate or postgraduate degree from an accredited acute care NP program and an active RN license. In most cases, you also must provide documentation of your master's degree to your state board of nursing, and you may be issued an advanced practice nursing certificate by that state.