OK, so you have decided that you are passionate about becoming an emergency room (ER) nurse.

However, the million-dollar question is…

What is the path to becoming an ER nurse?

Well, you typically need to be a practicing registered nurse (RN) or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) to become an ER nurse. So, to become an ER nurse, you should earn a nursing degree or diploma, gain the required work experience, and pass the licensure examination.

The only widely accepted certification for ER nurses is offered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). To qualify for the BCEN certification, you need to pass the CEN Test. The certification has to be renewed every four years. BCEN also recommends that you have two years of work experience in your specialty area before taking the test, but it is not mandatory.


To qualify for the CEN Test, you must hold a current, unrestricted RN license in the United States or its territories. A nursing certificate that is equivalent to an RN in the United States is also acceptable. BCEN recommends you have two years’ experience in your specialty area; however, it is not required. You can also sit for the test even if you no longer work in a clinical setting as long as you have a current, unrestricted RN license.

Important Qualities

To be a good ER nurse, you need to have the following qualities:

Quick assessment. Emergency room nurses are often the first health professionals that a person in an emergency medical situation encounters. This makes it important for the nurse to read the patient’s vital signs before conditions worsen as this could mean the difference between recovery and a fatality.

Decision-making. The quick assessment of a patient’s condition is coupled with the ability to decide on the most appropriate procedures for stabilization, pain reduction, and treatment, especially when a doctor is not at hand.

Emotional stability. The mortality rate among emergency care patients is naturally higher than many other categories of patients. Emergency room nurses should be able to deal with losing their patients in a quick and healthy manner.

Physical stamina. Since emergencies can occur at any time of the day, emergency room nurses need to be able to provide the best possible care whenever they are called upon to do so. The procedures can also last for long hours, which requires these nurses to be attentive and not lose their energy.