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Emergency nursing

Emergency Nursing is a nursing specialty concerned with the care of patients who are experiencing emergencies or who are critically ill or injured.

In contrast to most other areas of nursing, in which a patient arrives with a diagnosis applied by a physician, emergency nurses work with patients when a diagnosis has not yet been made and the cause of the problem is not known. Emergency nurses frequently contact patients in the emergency department before the patients see physicians. In this situation, the nurse must be skilled at rapid, accurate physical examination, early recognition of life-threatening illness or injury, the use of advanced monitoring and treatment equipment, and in some cases, the ordering of testing and medication according to "advance treatment guidelines" or "standing orders" set out by the hospital's emergency physician staff. Emergency nurses most frequently are employed in hospital emergency departments, though they may also work in free-standing emergency centers or urgent care clinics. Behavioral health patients have become an increasing concern for emergency nurses.

Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)

In North America, the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) designation is applied to a registered nurse who has demonstrated expertise in emergency nursing by passing a computer-administered examination given by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). The BCEN is a separate, albeit related organization to the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), which also administers certification exams for pediatric emergency nursing (CPEN) (in coopertation with the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)), critical-care ground transport nursing (CTRN) and flight nursing (CFRN). The certification is valid for four years, and can be renewed either by passing another examination or by completing 100 continuing education units (CEUs) in the specialty. There is also an online "open book exam" renewal option.

As of 2012, the BCEN has designated over 26,000 active CENs in the United States and Canada.[1] The CEN exam has 175 questions; 150 are used for testing purposes (25 are sample questions). The passing score is 70% and the candidate has three hours to take the exam. The test is administered in testing centers nationwide.

Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)

In the UK

A specialist nurse who will independently assess, diagnose, investigate, and treat a wide range of common accidents and injuries working autonomously without reference to medical staff. They primarily treat a wide range of musculoskeletal problems, skin problems and minor illness. They are trained in advanced nursing skills. Under the National Health Service grading system, ENPs are typically graded Band 6 or 7.

Additionally, some specialized nurses perform as [emergency care practitioner]s. They generally work in the pre-hospital setting dealing with a wide range of medical or emergency problems. Their primary function is to assess, diagnose and treat a patient in the home in an emergency setting.

In the US

An advanced practice nurse who assesses, diagnoses, and treats a variety of common illnesses, injuries and disease processes in emergency care settings. ENPs are trained in advanced nursing and medical skills such as x-ray interpretation, ophthalmic slit lamp examination, suturing, local and regional anesthesia, abscess incision and drainage, advanced airway techniques, fracture reduction, and casting and splinting.

Additional emergency nursing training and qualifications


  1. ^ "CEN Frequently Asked Questions". Board of Certification of Emergency Nursing. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 

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