trauma nurse course or prehospital trauma course

Nurses General Nursing


  • by LPMRN
    Specializes in Oncology/med surg, Occupational Health.

I am an RN in Occ. Health. I am wanting to take a trauma course. I have minimal experience in the ER.

Has anyone taken TNCC (trauma nurse core course) or PHTLS(prehospital trauma life support)? The two courses are both 2 days in length and have similiar content, but the TNCC seems to be more indepth.

Any opinions are welcome! Thanks

Larry77, RN

1,158 Posts

Specializes in Trauma/ED.

Might get a lot more responses from us over in the ED forum. Yes I've taken TNCC (required in our dept). Depending on who teaches the course and your experience it can be quite challenging. You learn a lot about assessment (A-I) and the pitfalls of distracting injuries etc.

My state is not very supportive of prehospital RN's so I'm not familiar with the other course. I do know RN's in EMS but they are either also medics, or are in EMS education.


102 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Department/Trauma.

I have taken PHTLS, BTLS and ATLS as a paramedic. I don't think any would really help a great deal in the nursing role. I will be taking TNCC in October as I have transitioned to the nursing role, I have heard it is not too much different than the other classes but does focus more on the nursing perspective. I have a friend that teaches TNCC who is a long time medic (20+ years, and an RN for a bit over a year) he refers to TNCC as BTLS with hugs.

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

88 Articles; 21,246 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

I live in IL and we have a growing Pre-Hospital RN program - I've been a PHRN for >10 years and have taken both courses. For an ER RN, IMHO, TNCC is the way to go.


1,905 Posts

I have taken both TNCC & PHTLS. From a purely technical and psychomotor stance, PHTLS is the way to go. The curriculum is based on the ATLS curriculum and scenarios are dynamic and challenging. If I am not mistaken Jeffrey Guy MD, is highly involved with this course curriculum and book. He is a well known burn doctor and surgical intensivist. He also authors a great pod cast known as ICU rounds. In all, a well taught PHTLS course should be a great experience.

However, as a novice ER RN wanting to develop a core level of trauma knowledge, I would also recommend taking TNCC first.

Specializes in ED, Flight.

I have both certs, for different jobs.

I agree with Gila. Go with TNCC if you primarily work in-hospital.

Specializes in ED, Flight.

I just reread the OP. Are you in OccHealth outside the hospital? I just talked this over with my wife, a physician at a National Laboratory.

She says their OccHealth crew initiates care (albeit typically indoors, in the clinic) knowing that eventually they will hand off to the paramedics who will deliver the patient to the ER. And they certainly do that stuff! If that is your scenario, PHTLS might make better sense. The mind set is more pre-hospital than TNCC (which does have a few pre-hospital scenarios, as I recall). OTOH, some nurses get lost with a prehospital approach, just because they aren't used to it.

Mostly, the principles are the same. Neither course is rocket science.

So, TNCC might be closer to your comfort zone because is written by nurses for nurses. PHTLS might be a bit closer to your reality, since it is written for extra-hospital personnel. I honestly doubt it will make a big difference in the end.

One more thing. I don't recall if nurses can get CEs for PHTLS. TNCC will give you a nice chunk of CEs.

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