RN, BSN student hoping to work in the ED after graduation

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    I am currently a senior in an RN, BSN program in Atlanta, GA. I am hoping to get a job in the Emergency Department after graduation and I would like to make myself as marketable a candidate as possible. My clinical instructor signed our group up for a stroke certification this week and that got me to thinking about taking some other courses to help my cause. Does anyone have any suggestions about what certifications I can take as student and which ones would be the most beneficial in an Emergency Department?
  2. 8 Comments so far...

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    Welcome to AN! The largest online nursing community!

    It is difficult, although not impossible, for a new grad to get hired in the ED......or any critical care area. Experience, bedside experience is the key for the Emergency Department.

    The Emergency Department is difficult for new grads because of the pace of the environment and the reliance on basic med/surg knowledge. Super fast and accurate critical thinking skills are necessary to act and react in this environment. The margin for error and learning is small. The reliance on a good background in med/surg....like how to respond to a low glucose, Is it a CVA or hypoglycemia? Is it A MI or Gallbladder attack? Along with skills in IV starts, blood draws, EKG interpretation, ABG's, inserting NGT's, foley's and chest tubes. If you find a facility that will hire a new grad to the ED ensure that there is an extended orientation directed at the new grad.

    The job market is very poor.....nurses are having trouble finding positions. The average time for a new grad to find a position is 7-10 months and is usually not in acute care let alone a critical care area. experience in patient care like EMT or paramedic or CNA/tech in an ED is one "key" to have an advantage....but even then there is no guarantee for the new grads in this job climate.

    Many of the ED certifications require experience at the bedside in the environment. I would also ask your instructors about your local job market what the expectations are for new grads.

    I wish you the very best.
    audacia likes this.
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    I recently started orientation in an ER/Trauma Center as a new grad, and I will echo the above poster's words. It is challenging. I worked as a tech in the same ER for 2 years while I was in nursing school. Doing so was tremendously helpful! If you have not worked as a tech, and have no healthcare experience, I'm not sure it would be realistic to start in an ER. In any case, ACLS and PALS would be good to have. If you can get a job in the interim as an ER tech or EMT, it would be most helpful.

    Good luck to you!
    Esme12 likes this.
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    Quote from Career Changes
    I recently started orientation in an ER/Trauma Center as a new grad, and I will echo the above poster's words. It is challenging. I worked as a tech in the same ER for 2 years while I was in nursing school. Doing so was tremendously helpful! If you have not worked as a tech, and have no healthcare experience, I'm not sure it would be realistic to start in an ER. In any case, ACLS and PALS would be good to have. If you can get a job in the interim as an ER tech or EMT, it would be most helpful.

    Good luck to you!
    I have worked in the ER as a tech previously and stopped to go to nursing school since I had to move to do so. I know local area hospitals have a new grad program that lasts 10-16 weeks, and I am hoping to apply for it.

    Other individuals on this site suggest not to have ACLS when you apply because you look like you are blowing smoke since you do not have any ACLS experience. Same for PALS. I know courses run fairly expensive sometimes especially since the courses will be paid for as part of your orientation so you don't have to shoulder the costs.

    I see many times they ask for ENA membership actually. Something I never thought to consider, but that may be a good place to start. Being multilingual is always a bonus if you are, play that up!

    Best of luck. I have a little less than a year.
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    Before you go further, why do you want to work in the ED? This is the question they are going to ask you and you need a good answer.

    Right now getting a job in a hospital is hard enough, as a new grad... Saying I want a ED, ICU or L&D position on top of that, even harder. As a new grad you need at least 4 weeks to orientate to Med/Surg (a good chunk of money for the hospital to spend on you) As a new grad in the ED or ICU you are looking at 4-5 months in orientation (almost $30,000 just in your salary and benefits). That is a lot of money for a hospital to invest in you. A manager is putting their neck out for you, if they hire a new grad. I personally do not know how the job market is in Atlanta but here in California my fellow new grads averaged 7 months to over a year to land A job, some are still looking. 10% moved to Texas to be hired. The people I know who were hired into the ED as new grads, knew someone or worked in the ED (EMT in the ED or Unit Sec in the ED). I would spend your time volunteering in an ED and get to know the staff (if you can get some of the staff nurses to pull for you with management it can help).

    As for certs: I say go ahead and get ACLS and PALS, they are not that expensive,if you have the money go ahead. My job wanted me to have them before I was hired, save the hosp a couple of bucks. But before I would take a good EKG class, 12 lead class (something they don't teach you in school) and maybe an EMT course (there are a lot of skill in the ED that they don't teach you in school ie splints, how to place a C-collar, etc)There are some other certs: TNCC and EDPC but they are really expensive (in the $500 range each) and you are not going to get a lot out of them without experience in the ED. NONE of these are the Golden Ticket into the ED and may just be dumping your money down the toilet. When I was hired as a new grad in the ED, I treated it as I won the lottery (your chances may be better with the lotto). That is how hard it is to get in as a new grad to the ED.

    Most of the people posting here are trying to give you a real world picture of the job market out there. Many BSN new grads think that it will be easy to get hired, "I have a leg above the ADNs". That may or may not be true. At my hospital they don't care if you have a BSN or ADN. What they do care about is real world nursing exp. If you get a med/surg position, take it and be thankful, these forums are filled with new grads trying to get a job.
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    I wouldn't take acls and pals beforehand, personally. I took them near the end of my nursing program basically BC I thought it would help give me a leg up on other new grads. While I did get a few job offers, I don't think it had anything to do with having those certs. And, while I did learn a lot, I would've learned even more had I had 6 months' experience under my belt. Just my opinion. And I agree in joining ENA. :-)
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    I started last year in the ER as a new RN at a level one trauma center. I had an excellent orientation with no previous experience besides clinicals in the ER. It was hard..but I loved it and had great co workers to help me. I think you should go for it if you want it bad enough. I do not regret my decision. However, if you start your orientation and you start to feel unsure, maybe speak with a mentor. I learned in nursing school about the Patricia Benner model, that it is natural sometimes to question your new nursing career especially when you start in the ER. If you still have this feeling for a while, then maybe the ER isn't for you. Also, all of those certifications will come with the job when you start. But stay positive and good luck to you!!
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    Thanks everyone for all the helpful information. I will try and respond to all the above questions and concerns. The hospital I am looking at has an RN Residency Program for for new grads that is a 2 year program. In addition, they ask for another 2 year commitment after the residency is completed. Thankfully this is a excellent program that is geared towards preparing new nurses for the hectic ED. The reason that I am seeking a job in the ED and at this particular Level 1 trauma center is because it combines all the things I have a great interest in (i.e. wounds, psych, major trauma, indigent populations, and of course a fast-paced environment). My clinicals in the ED have been the most amazing experiences! I love the environment and every day is something new. It is exciting and really requires you to think on your toes.
    As for the certification suggestions, thank you for all of your input. I have actually thought about joining ENA (added bonus-I get a discount for being a member of NSNA) and just haven't gone through with it yet. I will definitely get right on that. I think I may try to get my ACLS and possibly PALS. We will see how I can work these into my school schedule.

    Again, thank you for the suggestions! It is much appreciated.
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    Hi there, Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville hires quite a bit of new grads in the ER. I think the most recent residency group in August had about 15-20 (and they hired a total of around 60 new grads hospital wide). I also have a few friends at Grady Memorial who started off in ER as new grads too. In general of the people I know, some of them had previous experience working as a tech in the ER but a lot of them didn't have any experience or certifications. So you do have a chance at getting an ER position around ATL. Good luck!
    Nurse2b7337 and UGAdawgGirl like this.


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