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Emergency Room Nursing or Intensive Care Unit Nursing? Here is why I chose ER.

Emergency Room Nursing or Intensive Care Unit Nursing? Here is why I chose ER. I will be talking about why I chose the emergency department over the intensive care unit. My goal is to provide some insight on the differences so that you can make an informed decision based on what you like!



When I was a bedside nurse on a floor, I did not know too much about the differences between emergency nursing or intensive care nursing. I tried watching different videos and research online but little information was available, so in this video I will share what I learned and why I chose to be an emergency room nurse rather than an intensive care unit nurse.



This is especially important in the British Columbia, the province I work in because you can get the hospital to pay for one specialty program every 10 years. So, essentially if you choose ICU you must be an ICU nurse for 10 years or pay out of pocket to switch. It also means that you owe at least 16 months of working in that specialty.


Now that I have stressed the importance of making the right decision, let’s talk about the reasons why I choose the Emergency Room over the Intensive Care Unit.



  1. Diversity of patient care experiences. Most ER’s have multiple departments such as first aid, intake, fast track, trauma, acute etc.. Which means that the patient you have to know how to serve can range from neonates to elderly adults. Therefore this variety and the fact that you have to be versatile made me intruged to choose ER nursing versus an ICU which has a specific set of demographics that they generally serve.



  1. Better for my future career prospect of being a NP. Now this is obviously debatable, but being so versatile you learn so much about so many things that it will definitely prepare you to be a NP. As I said there is even an urgent care clinic section of the ER which is great because that is the demographic you will serve as a NP (typically). However if I was to be a CRNA, ICU would definitely be the way to go as you get more experience titrating drips and monitoring hemodynamics. But that is not to say that you can’t do that in the ER as certain hospitals have trauma sections where you may be required to monitor and manage an ICU patient for prolonged periods of time due to lack of beds available — this is especially evident more than ever during a pandemic.



  1. There is a level of comradery that is unparalleled to any other floor. You have to be able to work well in teams and that to me is so much fun. Working alongside nurses, physicians, pharmacists, lab, ecg techs and many more make the job so rewarding as you are providing one part of a person’s care ultimately helping them leave the hospital. The ER is also very unpredictable so there are times where people can take a turn for the worst and ultimately require a lot more support from staff right away and I feel that as an ER nurse it is your job to identify that. However in ICU it is more standardized in their environment as they have certain protocols for typical things that occur, not to say that it is easy by any means, it is just less chaotic as there is more certainty with a person’s condition than the ER.



  1. More interaction with patients. Communication is an art form in itself and being vented and sedated is part of an ICU nurses job. This is quite challenging to therapeutically achieve but at the same time takes away from a certain aspect of care that you are not exposed to as an ICU nurse. That is something that did not interest me, which is another reason why I chose ER.



Overall, being either one would be an incredibly rewarding career field. Both have extremely challenging work conditions which is why it is known to be a critical care specialty. I hope that this video provides you with some insight and I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this matter below!




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