Why isnt Emergency Nursing listed under critical care?


I've always been curious about the perception that emergency nursing isn't critical care nursing. It qualifies as such for the CCRN, but it's included with "Camp Nursing" on this website. :) Obviously most patients are not critical in the ER, but we are definitely equipped to handle any that might show up.


413 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing. Has 5 years experience.

I viewed the categorization on this website as recognizing that Emergency Nursing is a specialty. If you are a member of ENA you probably read the articles last year in memoriam of Judith Kelleher, who co-founded ENA, and how she fought to have Emergency Nursing recognized as a specialty--advancing specialized education and training, and setting standards.

As a new nurse this left a big impression on me. I once got into an argument with another ED nurse because he said "Why do they call it the ED when we work in the Emergency Room?". I said "Because we are a specialty and we should be recognized as an Emergency Department like any other department in this hospital." He didn't get it....

To answer your question specifically, anyone who thinks ED nurses aren't doing critical care is fooling themselves. Are we maintaining them for 12 hours with critical interventions; no, we are getting them up to the unit. But we are setting them up for success by starting critical interventions in our department.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 43 years experience.

To know where we are going..... we need to know where we have been.


Kelleher was born Aug. 5, 1923. She joined the U.S. Navy’s Cadet Nurse Corps in World War II and attended nursing school at Methodist Hospital in Dallas. She later moved to California with her husband, Daniel R. Kelleher, and the couple raised four children. Daniel Kelleher died in 1988.

After graduating from the nursing program at San Joaquin County General Hospital in Stockton, Kelleher earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Long Beach State University and a degree in Public Health Nursing from California State in Long Beach.

She worked in various roles at Downey Community Hospital in Downey, Calif., but found her passion in emergency nursing. Realizing there was no specialized education or training for emergency nurses, and with an eye toward setting higher standards for patient care, Kelleher announced an emergency nursing course at a May 1970 meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

She joined forces with New York emergency nurse leader Anita Dorr, RN, FAEN, and they formed the national Emergency Department Nurses Association in December 1970. The name was later changed to the Emergency Nurses Association.

Kelleher was elected the first president of EDNA, serving from 1973 to 1974. She led the organization to national prominence and recognition as the only association dedicated to the advancement of the specialty through education and advocacy. One of her dreams was realized in 2012, when the American Nurses Association recognized emergency nursing as a specialty.

“Judy’s legacy will live on in all of us in the care that we provide for our patients and through the work of ENA,” said 2013 ENA President JoAnn Lazarus, MSN, RN, CEN. “I know we will continue to make Judy proud.”

In keeping with Kelleher’s expressed wish to continue to further emergency nursing education, the ENA Foundation is accepting donations in her memory. To make a donation to the Memorial Endowment, please click here.


We as emergency nurses are so much more than our critical care skills. We are a unique specialty in which we are masters of all and the first line of treatment in many cases. The first residency of emergency medicine was founded around 1972. Emergency medicine was not recognized as a specialty until around 1974. Until that time ER's (emergency rooms) we single rooms with curtained bays run by the local family doctor on a rotational basis. Many MD's stayed at home and were called by the ER nurses when the assessment-work up- was complete.

Emergency Departments are much more than a single room as ED's evolved to the multi-acuity departments of today. When you have something special wrong with you you see a specialist....right?

Judy Kelleher felt emergency nurses required specialized training in order to serve our patients with the best trained nurses possible.... the ENA was formed in a casual phone conversation between Judy Kelleher and Anita Door. One from the West coast and the other on the west coast...they met in the middle....Chicago.

I am proud that Emergency medicine is considered a speciality and we are the specialized nurses trained and educated to care for this diverse population.

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care. Has 14 years experience.

I work in an ER where it isn't uncommon to hold an ICU patient in the ER for days. So honestly, our ER nurses ARE critical care/tele/med surg because the floors are full. We have to do it all. I worked MICU/SICU/CICU before this job, and I honestly say this job is equivalent. We've done CRRT in the ER, and they are talking about starting ECMO down in the ED someday. I'm very proud to be an emergency nurse and we should all be proud of the incredible job we do!


196 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

We definitely are critical care, but I always view CC more as ICU. Emergency nursing is a beast of it's own,; we take every patient as they walk in. Of course, the ICU patients start in the ED, and as others have mentioned we often hold ICU patients in the ED....sometimes for days. ER nurses do it all!