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Trauma nursing is an intense specialty of nursing, where the skills of a trauma nurse may make the difference between life and death for a patient in distress. I will be covering some important topics regarding trauma nursing such as an introduction to trauma nursing, work environment, and emergencies seen in the field. Also, the history requires education and certification opportunities in trauma nursing. Furthermore, going into what the future of trauma nursing may face. Finally covering why I’m considering going into trauma nursing. Moving forward, these topics will elaborate more on the subject of trauma nursing.

Introduction of trauma nursing

Trauma nurses have a wide array of skills they must be proficient with to fulfill their duties. Along with some of the standard expectations of a registered nurse such as documenting, communicating and collaborating, conferring with family members, reporting cases of abuse and neglect, and administering first aid CPR when required. Trauma nurses will be expected to administer IV fluids, administer blood products, perform wound care, recognize worsening signs and symptoms in already unstable patients, and administer emergency medications, particularly during a code. Also, the trauma nurse must be able to therapeutically communicate with patients and family members, and collaborate with law enforcement whenever a trauma case may be related to criminal activity. These are an overview of skills that you would see used by a trauma nurse.

Work environment

Trauma nurses are prepared for anything that will be thrown at them while maintaining a calm resolve and working with a team. A trauma nurse will see patients of all ages, in various situations and not only know what to do but do it as quickly as possible, in fast-paced high-stakes situations. While still being able to communicate, as well as work in unison with other healthcare professionals to provide the most optimal care. Trauma nurses must also be able to compose themselves despite having to bear first-hand witness to tragedy. As you can see, preparation, resolve, and teamwork are core components of a trauma nurse.


Trauma nursing is a very versatile specialty, that requires deep knowledge of various emergencies. A Trauma nurse can find themselves treating patients injured related to gang violence such as stab wounds, assault and battery, gunshot wounds, and while not always related motor vehicle accidents also to name a few. Furthermore, a trauma nurse may encounter domestic-related patients such as physical abuse, or even neglect. Lastly, a trauma nurse may find themselves caring for those affected by acts of god such as those who have sustained injuries from hurricanes, tornados, floods, earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. As shown, a trauma nurse must be well-versed in various emergencies and how to approach each one.

History of trauma nursing

The history of trauma nursing is an interesting one, one of slow progression from untrained nurses to well-educated, well-trained specialized nurses. The earliest record in the United States of what is now known as trauma nursing would be from the Revolutionary War when George Washington mandated nurses to tend to the wounded, as well as women to supervise these nurses and facilities. Before 1890, the US military sought out untrained women to serve as nurses as stated by Mary Beachley, MS, RN. Even though the Corp of Army Nurses was known to be founded in 1901, there were limitations. Male nurses were not allowed entry into the Army Nurse Corps until some fifty years later in 1955. Though trauma is an important role for nurses, as stated it has seen a slow progression to what it is now.

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Required education preparation

As with any nursing specialty, trauma nursing requires specific education to be prepared to enter the field. Trauma nursing requires completion of a two to four-year university program, therefore having an associate nursing degree or bachelor nursing degree respectively. Furthermore, trauma nursing requires the nurse to have passed the NCLEX-RN, therefore being a registered nurse. A trauma nurse must also have the trauma nursing core course (TNCC) completed, it’s a two-day long certification class that preps nurses for trauma patient care. Trauma nurses must recertify their trauma nursing core course (TNCC) every four years. While basic life support (BLS) is a standard requirement for nurse specialties across the board, trauma nurses must also be certified in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) and some cases pediatric advanced life support (PALS) as well. As stated, that’s the specific minimum education required to become a trauma nurse.

Certification opportunities

Trauma nursing has many available certification opportunities available in their field. While depending on the workplace, sometimes the emergency nursing pediatric course (ENPC) might be seen as a requirement. The emergency nursing pediatric course, while similar to the trauma nursing core course, focuses specifically on emergencies in children. Another certification available to trauma nurses is a trauma-certified registered nurse certification (TCRN). The TCRN is recognized nationwide and has higher requirements than the other certifications such as one thousand hours or two years of trauma nursing, an RN, and 20-30 hours of coursework related to trauma. While this as a whole is focused on a trauma nurse that would operate within a hospital, it’s also worth noting that flight nurses are also considered trauma nurses which would include this certification specifically available to flight nurses, the certified flight registered nurse (CFRN) credential for nursing. In closing, trauma nurses have many certifications available to earn, which only further improve their skills.

Future of trauma nursing

Here are some factors to consider in the future of trauma nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for registered nurses is expected to increase by 12% between 2018 and 2028. Even though there is expected to be an overall job growth, nurses lining up to fill those jobs may become an issue. As predicted by Robert Rossiter, as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age we’ll see a bigger demand for nurses, especially in the south and west regions of the United States. What this means for trauma nurses is that as the profession as a whole will become increasingly stretched thin by these shortages with higher patient loads in a field where nurse burnout is already playing a huge factor in staffing shortages, lower job satisfaction, and worsening patient outcomes. The pinch will be felt hard on trauma nurses where the stress and stakes are already high, they will only get higher with fewer resources. Those are the factors to consider in the future of trauma nursing.

Why are you considering this as a career path?

I am considering trauma as a career path for various reasons such as family care, personal experiences, and desired skills. I come from a healthcare family, my mother was a labor and delivery nurse and eventually moved on to teach childbirth education classes at Carroll Hospital. My aunt worked in oncology before moving into nurse management, she now works at the command center at Johns Hopkins. My grandfather at a young age was a medic in the Korean War. Even those in my family who did not pursue healthcare I often consider to be very caring people who go out of their way to help others. As my parents and other family members get older, I feel that having more knowledge regarding healthcare would be greatly beneficial to them in instances of potential traumas caused by falls. My primary reason for pursuing trauma nursing as a career is that I want to acquire the skills and knowledge that would enable me to be able to provide immediate urgent care in emergencies. These are the reasons why I want to pursue trauma nursing as a career path.

Life experience

I’ve had some experiences in my life that pointed me towards trauma care and made me feel that I was suited for it. When I was 7 years old, I was involved in a car accident not far from my home, where my father and I were hit by a drunk driver causing our vehicle to spin out. In this accident, my father’s glasses shattered on the windshield and flew back into his face. Even at the young age of 7, I immediately reacted and ran to my house to get the required assistance. In my early 20s, while riding in a car with my friends we witnessed a friend’s car go off the road and then flip back onto the road. The car fell silent and all of my friends in the car froze up not knowing what to do, I took charge of the situation, instructing them to get our car off the road and to call the emergency services. I ran as fast as I could to check on my friend whose car had flipped. I assisted them in getting out of their vehicle and used my jacket as a makeshift tourniquet until the fire department arrived. These are the first-hand experiences that led me to want to pursue trauma nursing as a career path.


In summary, this showcases why trauma nursing is an intense specialty of nursing. We covered what trauma nurses do, their work environment, emergencies they encounter, history, required education, certification opportunities, what the future of trauma nursing may face, and lastly why I’m considering going into trauma nursing. The importance of trauma nursing cannot be understated as trauma nurses are the first ones to treat a patient in an emergency when they reach the hospital. What trauma nurses face can be daunting, but also very rewarding. In closing, I felt doing this paper helped me better learn and prepare for what I may be facing as a trauma nurse in the future look and I look forward to the challenge.


    1. Beachley, M. (2005). The Evolution of Trauma Nursing and the Society of Trauma Nurses. Journal of Trauma Nursing, 12(4), 105–115. doi: 10.1097/00043860-200512040-00003
    3. Writers, R. N. S. (2019, September 2). How to Become a Trauma Nurse. Retrieved from

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