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ED observation unit

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Jama93 Jama93 (New) New Student

I am currently a nursing student with hopes of being an er/trauma nurse one day. I recently interviewed for an observation unit for the emergency department at a level 2 trauma center. I am wondering if is a great stepping stone for the future of working in the er. Not sure if I should go to a step down unit or stick with the observation unit? Just looking for a little bit of advice as I really want to make sure I’m getting the right experience to prepare me for the future.

MotoMonkey, BSN, RN

Specializes in ED. Has 2 years experience.

I know that in my area many hospitals have frozen their hiring of new grad nurses or reduced the number they are hiring. With that said I would say to take what ever sort of position is offered and gain all the experience you can. After a year or so of experience your ability to move hospitals or departments opens up a lot.

Observation units are generally set up to take individuals who do not meet other admission criteria, these patients should have a pretty straightforward course of stay and generally shouldn't say for more than a day. Basically it is a unit for patients who are not sick enough to actually be admitted to the hospital but they may benefit from additional monitoring. Think low risk chest pain who needs a troponin redrawn in three hours and additional ekgs. Instead of that patient taking up a valuable ED bed, they get moved to obs.

Id say that it is good experience if you are unable to land an ED job, but you are not going to get much experience with sick patients and youll likely not be gaining the same kind of assessment or intervention skills as an emergency nurse.

@MotoMonkey thank you for the advice! IDK which way to lean with the position. I do want to get all the experience I can get but also don’t want to pass on an opportunity. Would working in a step down unit be more beneficial?

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

I think an observation unit would be great if you want to go to the ER someday. You'll get a feel for the fast turnover, develop ECG skills, and I think assessment skills will still be key as people turn on a dime. If you do well, you'll have the eye of the ER manager and that will surely give you a leg up. If the ER is short, they may pull you to the main ER to play!

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

A step down unit will give you some critical care experience. However, the observation experience is good for different reasons - all the reasons others mentioned above.....plus networking and making connections. I know of some “hold” nurses in our ER that eventually moved over to ER positions because they were well liked. They were friendly, helped out when they could, and easy going when changing tasks. They basically made friends within the ER staff and those staff ended becoming a good connection for them.

Did you get the job offer? Seems like a great opportunity.

@JKL33 yes they did offer me the job ! Thank you

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Specializes in Peds ED. Has 10 years experience.

The hospital I worked at that had an observational unit had floating agreements between the two units- ED nurses could be pulled to the obs unit and jobs nurses could be pulled to the ED. So it was a good set up for nurses wanting to transition in to the ED since there was some cross training plus opportunity to get to know staff and management on floats.