MSN-Educated Nurses Working in the Emergency Department

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RNs in emergency rooms need to remain calm under pressure.

Working as a registered nurse (RN) in an emergency department is a fast-paced and challenging career. RNs working in all levels of trauma care must remain levelheaded while taking on some of the most serious medical cases.

Hospitals staff their emergency rooms with RNs who remain calm under extreme circumstances, work as team players and understand the complexities of critical care. RNs who have earned advanced degrees, including master’s in nursing degrees, play vital roles in the success of healthcare services in an emergency department.

The leading nurse-advocacy organizations, including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), found that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) positively impact patient outcomes in diverse settings, including emergency rooms.

“Graduate nursing education advances innovation and strengthens the leadership needed to improve healthcare delivery,” the AACN said. “Education at this level incorporates the foundational knowledge, skills and competencies needed to thrive in increasingly complex clinical environments.”

Indeed, one of the best routes to an emergency nursing career path is an online master’s in nursing degree. Earning an advanced degree allows RNs to work in emergency departments in a variety of positions, including:

Forensic nursing

The forensic nurse fills a crucial role in the emergency department by delivering healthcare to victims of crime and collecting evidence for law enforcement.  Forensic nurses are trained to gather, identify and preserve relevant evidence that may be used in legal proceedings.

Forensic nurses help victims by focusing on long- and short-term medical and psychological care. As healthcare professionals, they bring a nursing perspective to criminal investigation. They also work as death investigators, sometimes in conjunction with a coroner or medical examiner and sometimes in place of one. As such, they use their education, skills and knowledge to perform tasks that include discovering more about the victim’s medical and social history, examining the crime scene and inspecting the body.

Many forensic nurses are also registered sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), a designation that requires classroom and clinical training. When working as SANEs, RNs work with child and adult sexual-assault victims to collect evidence and document injuries.

Some of the key components all forensic nurses learn include information about intentional and unintentional injuries, treatments, victimology, photodocumentation, law and legal practices. They also learn about the judicial process on the federal, state and local level.

Nurse practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners who work in emergency nursing are prepared to provide primary and acute care to patients of all ages. The American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP) defines the role of the emergency nurse practitioner (ENP) as a specialty provider who manages patients across the lifespan, treating all care levels from non-urgent to urgent and emergent conditions.

National surveys show up to 98 percent of ENPs are certified as family nurse practitioners (FNPs). The newest regulations for ENP certification mandate that ENPs be certified FNPs from the start.

In providing care, ENPs use evidence-based standards as a foundation for managing patient conditions. Their daily duties include performing assessments, determining a differential diagnosis or diagnoses, outlining medical decision-making and establishing condition treatment and management plans.

The ENP’s scope of practice also includes assessing, diagnosing and managing chronic and acute illnesses and injuries. As part of their duties, ENPs also instruct patients and their family members or significant others regarding health, wellness and injury prevention (if applicable). ENPs work collaboratively with other providers and stakeholders to promote culturally competent practice.

Nurse education

Nurse educators work in classroom and clinical settings, including emergency departments, to train up-and-coming healthcare providers as forensic nurses and FNPs.

Nurse educators prepare student nurses with real-world skills through classroom teaching, simulation and clinical experience. Some of the many nurse educator roles include teaching, advising, practice and research. Within an emergency department, nurse educators ensure staff is properly trained in emergency procedures. They are responsible for orientation, lecture speakers and educational initiatives. They assess staff needs and develop programs to address the needs.

Other nurse educator leadership responsibilities in the emergency room include:

  • Serving as a mentor and consultant for all emergency department staff members
  • Collaborating with other in-house educators to develop educational activities
  • Coordinating with nurse managers to identify needed educational preparation
  • Establishing policies and procedures for best practices

Earning an MSN to Work in an Emergency Department

RNs who have earned upper-level degrees have many roles in emergency nursing. As forensic nurses, they help crime victims get justice by collecting vital evidence and assisting in police investigations. As nurse practitioners, they support patient wellness by performing assessments and triage to make treatment and management plans. As educators, they teach student nurses and assist emergency departments as a whole.

An essential component to any of the nursing career paths is an advanced education that provides comprehensive and evidence-based instruction for safe and effective healthcare. RNs seeking advanced degrees have an opportunity to earn such advanced skills through online master’s in nursing programs.

About Duquesne University’s Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs

At Duquesne University, online master’s in nursing students study core competencies in advanced nursing as foundational learning for the field. Duquesne University’s online MSN graduates are prepared for careers in emergency medical care, working alongside medical professionals and in private practice.

The university offers MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate programs in three areas: Forensic Nursing, Nurse Education and Faculty Role and Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner.

The online coursework allows RNs to complete assignments while maintaining their careers and personal lives. Graduates are eligible to sit for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCP) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Family Nurse Practitioner certification examinations, among others. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.



The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice: American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Nurse Faculty Tool Kit for the Implementation of the Master’s Essentials: American Association of Colleges of Nursing

The Forensic Nurse as a Death Investigator: IANF

Your path to becoming a nurse educator: American Nurse Today