Pre Nursing Student--ER Tech?



I'm doing my prerequisites for nursing school and meanwhile I'd like to transition out of my current career into the healthcare field in order to gain more experience. Right now I'm a volunteer in L&D at a local hospital as a doula and like that a lot but think I might like working in the ER and might be good at it. I will have to take my CNA course anyway as part of the nursing program, so could work in that capacity through the rest of school, however...

Would I be better off getting a certificate as an Emergency Room Technician? There is a community college nearby that offers that course of study and it doesn't seem like a huge investment of time or money. It kind of seems like in an ER tech job I would be involved with some of the skills that ultimately I will need as a nurse along with typical nursing assistant duties. Is that correct?

Do graduates from these programs get hired right into positions or would I need some kind of additional experience. It kind of seems like all the job postings for techs I've seen require a year of experience.

Would it benefit me to volunteer in an emergency room? What kinds of things do volunteers do? Would that help me figure out for sure if ER work is right for me?

What other experiences should I have in order to ensure gainful employment as well as success as an ER nurse after graduation. I'm going to need to work anyway, so I figure I might as well be on some kind of meaningful path.

Thanks so much for your insight!


8 Posts

I think you are on the right track, I was just hired as an ER tech pending my successful completion of Nursing 152. I am in my first semester of an ADN program. I wanted the ER because it will give me more experience than the average patient care tech position. I also figured as I am new to the healthcare field that if I can handle the ER as a tech than I can probably handle the blood, pain, stress, and grief that comes along with this profession. Better to find this out now than after I spend two years in school training for a career that I do not want or am incapable of handling. I hope this helps and good luck.

Specializes in OR. Has 14 years experience.

Getting a job as an ER tech early in nursing is a great idea if you want to be a nurse in an ER. Always make those connections! You'll already have one foot in the doorway of the path you want to be in when you graduate.

Yes, it's a good decision!


58 Posts

I work as an ER Tech and have for a few years, I'm graduating from nursing school this winter. I've found my experiences there to be extremely helpful as far as skills and the ability to do assessments goes. Getting your foot in the door in a hospital really helps too, and the benefits (16 hrs/wk for insurance, tuition reimbursement) have helped a LOT. Getting to speak to nurses about their school, experience, etc is a bonus. Everyone there has been very supportive of my going to school, and knowing that I'll have my foot in the door when I'm a new grad is awesome in this economy.

Our ER doesn't let volunteers do anything but maybe stuff envelopes. I'd do a quick EMT-B program through a CC, but check to make sure that's all you'd need to get hired in your local ED. Some require EMT-Paramedic, which is a significant amount of school compared to a few months for EMT-B.

Good luck!

Specializes in Pediatrics.

I worked as a ED tech while in nursing school. I loved it and I miss the ED so much, my goal is to make it back to the ED one day:p

I would go to work and try and absorb as much information as a could, and try and learn as much as I could while doing my job, I can not say that being a tech has helped land me a job, because all the hospitals in the area require 1-2 years experience in the ED before they hire, and internships are so competitive, so I am in a LTAC/SNF for now, but one day I will make it back to my home;)

I would look into your area hospitals to see what they require to work as a tech, for me it was a CNA2, with additional training with EKGs and splint applications, so you might not need the ED tech course, but deffienatly go for it, working as a tech will expose you to the pace and choas that is the ED


192 Posts

Specializes in LTC currently. Has 2 years experience.

yes, if you want to be an ER Nurse, becoming a ER tech is a good idea. I personally know of a nurse that did this. She worked at one of the community hospitals here in chicago while going to the local community college to get her Associates in Nursing. When she finished school the hospital already had an ER Nurse position open for her. Goodluck!:nurse:


13 Posts

Specializes in Occupational, Medsurg, Psyc,Dermatology,.

What state do you live in? ducky

Specializes in Emergency. Has 21 years experience.

The vast majority of pcts in my er are nursing students. It's great exposure to the field and you will learn many fundamental skills that are the core of pt care. You will also become a true expert in cpr.

Now, while every hospital is different, my nm is partial to hiring our pcts when they graduate because she already knows them. Almost all our new grad hires fall into one of three categories, they worked with us a pct, did an externship or were a local emtb/p.

Good luck.


37 Posts

Specializes in Long Term Care, Medical Surgical, ER. Has 10 years experience.

Jollydog and I have actually been through this conversation before, but I'm going to say it again, but this time in a different perspective because I have actually been through what you are going through right now OP.

My senior year of High School I took a class called Health Occupations because I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. In this class they certified you as a CNA with your certificate in hand on graduation. When I was accepted into the LPN program, I went to the hospital and actually obtained an ER Tech position.

The ER Tech position was a very, very good thing for me. Not only did I enjoy most of the work I did but a lot of the nurses where not afraid to teach me when they had something going on with their patients that I was not really familiar with. It also help me develop quick patient assessment skills because I could actually see what was going on in the rooms and I saw how the ER Nurses with experience handled them.

I felt like I could also tie in what I was learning in nursing with a real world outlook, meaning I could tie in what I was learning and actually apply it with what I seen quickly with working in the ER.

ER Techs do have different responsbilities then a normal every day CNA, but most of the things I was taugh was OJT and I was not required to anymore schooling, especially since I was already a nursing student. But some of the things that I was taught that I hadn't learned in nursing school at the time was phlebotomy (made me a better IV/blood draw nurse), EKGs (taught me different rthythms and what to look for with acute MIs), and communication skills with the family. (In a Emergency situation such as a code.)

Working as a ER Tech really paved the say in my education. If you want to be a ER Nurse then go for it, the only thing I will say is some facilities require their new grad nurses to work on a general Med/Surg floor for at least 6 months to a year before transfering to a speciality areas. I had to do this and I wouldn't trade that in for the world. Don't get me wrong I hate working on the floor, but it taught me skills that I would of never learned as a new grad in the ER and for that I was greatful. So that is also something that you might want to consider before you actually take a position in the ER as a new grad.

Happy schooling!


62 Posts

Thanks for all the advice and kind words of encouragement. I think I will go for it. I'm scared but really excited about it!

@Ibelieve, I live in Minnesota. Do the requirements vary from state to state?


21 Posts

I have to agree above. ER Techs do alot more responsibilities and skills than a average tech or cna upstairs. Consider it a very long peer interview during the time you work there. After I passed my boards, naturally they offered me a job in ER soon after. I have to admit, GNs usually have a tougher time getting a job there right out of nursing school


46 Posts

Hi, Popeyepalmer

I know it's been awhile that you've posted this but:

I came across ur post about you landing a job as a er tech in ur first semester of ur adn program. I also would like to become an er tech to get a feel for the er because I probably would like to become an er or trauma nurse in the future. But I want to get some exposure to the er to see if I can handle it. I wanted to know what u did to get it or how u got that position as an er tech? Did u have to get certified or did you ask around to see if they were hiring for an er tech position; after u got hired did they proceed to teach u what u needed to know as the situation popped up? Did u have previous medical experience? What's it like to to work as an er tech? I haven't finished my pre-reqs yet but am planning to apply to an adn program next yr in january. How much time do u commit to the hospital wrking as an er tech outside of school? Any other info or recommendations u could give me about working in the er; er clinicals, preceptorships/internships is greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!