What Do Trauma Nurses Do

Posted by Shanna Shafer on May 29, 2015 12:33:00 PM


What Do Trauma Nurses Do?


Trauma nursing is a specialty that many people need at some point in their lives, unfortunately. From accidents to sudden illnesses, the services of trauma nurses can be used to stabilize patients with many severe and life threatening conditions. Considering a career in trauma nursing? Learn more here and pick up a copy of our Nurse Salary Guide!

Roles/Other Potential Roles

The role of a trauma nurse typically keeps them in emergency rooms or specialty units, where people suffering from critical illness or injury are most likely to be. Trauma nurses typically take direction from charge nurses, nurse practitioners, and emergency room doctors, all of whom may direct the care for emergency patients.

Trauma nurses may serve to help stabilize patients or monitor them once they are no longer in critical condition. For instance, burns can require extensive long term treatment, so burn trauma nurses often care for patient from the moment of admission to long after discharge.

Responsibilities/Demands of the Job

Trauma nursing is a demanding and time-sensitive job, so you need to be ready for many intense job demands when you get started in this field. You need to be able to respond to emergency situations with a cool head, since you never know when a patient's condition will change or worsen. You should also be ready to work in a surgical arena, since patients may need surgery to cure or prevent the worsening of their conditions.

Trauma nurses often work long shifts that include nights, weekends, and holidays. If you want to thrive in this field, you must be willing to work with patients in various conditions. This may include working with patients who have attempted suicide, suffered serious illness, or been in extremely violent accidents. Much of your job may involve stabilizing patients through intubation, CPR, cessation of blood loss, and other immediate solutions that require fast thinking.


During the course of your education and career, you may develop specialized trauma nursing skills in different areas of trauma care. For example, you may become particularly skilled at working with car crash victims, patients who have suffered from heart attacks, or patients who are recovering from strokes.

You may also work in a burn trauma unit, or as a trauma flight nurse, transporting patients and responding to trauma calls in the field. Once you secure a trauma nursing position at a local hospital, you may receive ongoing education in different aspects of emergency care and choose which type of specialized training you want to pursue.


Trauma nursing has slightly more advanced qualifications than many other nursing specialties. You may begin with an Associate's degree, but many emergency rooms require nurses to have or be actively pursuing a BSN. You must also be registered with the Board of Nursing in your state, which requires you to take the NCLEX-RN and submit proof of your education.


In a four-year nursing program, you can develop a wide range of skills that are used in a trauma wing or emergency room. In addition to emergency nursing skills, you may learn how to communicate with other health personnel and apply nursing research to your practice.

You will likely take advanced trauma nursing courses through your employer including ACLS, PALS, ABLS, or TNCC. Trauma nursing is also an area that will offer on-the-job training in a variety of subjects, as each new case presents the opportunity to learn in a hands-on way.


All licensing is done at the state level. You can contact your state's Board of Nursing to learn more about the licensing process in your state. Typically, you pass the NCLEX-RN and then complete the application process. You may also earn several additional certifications, proving your ability to work in trauma cases proficiently and safely.

Salary Range

Trauma nurses can earn many different salaries, so it's best to find out what nurses in your area earn to get an idea of your potential salary range. Download your copy of our Nurse Salary Guide to find out what nurses around you make!

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Job Outlook for 2014 and Beyond

You may benefit from a great job outlook as a registered nurse! In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 19% increase in job openings.

Career Path

You might start working as a trauma nurse after earning a BSN or earning an ADN and getting specialized training in an emergency setting.

Associations and Organizations


If you want to make a difference and save lives, trauma nursing may be the field for you. After looking at our Nurse Salary Guide, use our school listings to find nearby degree programs.

Topics: Career in Nursing