Working as an A&E nurse is a unique experience. It’s in the name; Accident and Emergency – dealing with critical patients in a high-pressure environment. You’re often the first point of contact for patients coming in, with a variety of injuries, illnesses and conditions. There is very little routine, you have to work quickly and no two cases are the same. But with all this pressure, chaos and hard work comes an incredibly rewarding career. Nursing jobs require a broad range of technical and soft skills. So what does it take to be a great A&E Nurse?

Decision Making

As a nurse, you need to think and act quickly. In A&E, the difference between life and death may be a matter of seconds. It’s a daunting prospect, but being an effective A&E nurse requires you to jump into any situation and be able to make judgements immediately. You’ll develop a strong sense of decisiveness, learning to deliver appropriate treatment quickly, and understand a huge range of symptoms.

Stamina

Working in an A&E Department, you’ll be up against tides of patients coming in, requiring all kinds of treatment and care. Your role is constantly changing, rising to a number of challenges. To succeed in a busy A&E, you’ll need to deliver a consistent level of patient care throughout long shifts, and this requires some serious stamina. All departments have peaks and lulls, but in A&E you may often find yourself rushed off your feet. At first, it will seem overwhelming but as time goes on, you’ll be able to manage your energy levels and figure out what works best to keep you on your toes. Try small things to give you a boost like a healthy snack, or a short break to clear you head.

Empathy

As you can imagine, being in A&E can be a difficult time for patients and their families. It’s not unlikely that you’ll be dealing with distressed and confused members of the public. Showing compassion can make all the difference to their experience. It may be tough to maintain a professional, composed and respectful demeanour, but you’ll get used to it. You’ll find yourself dealing with all kinds of delicate situations – from life changing traumas to downright absurd injuries. Each individual case deserves the same empathetic approach – and in turn you’ll be a source of comfort for patients in their time of need.

Conflict Management

Tensions can be high in an A&E Department. As a first point of contact for patients, you may find yourself being a sounding board for their pain, frustration and confusion. As we all know, the nature of A&E means that some people have to wait – and nobody likes to feel like they’re not being made a priority. Handling difficult patients is a very good skill to have in your arsenal, for any nursing job.

Resilience

There are no shortages of physical and emotional challenges while working in an A&E. Nursing can be an exhausting job at times, and it’s not unlikely that patients will take their emotions out on you. A great nurse has the ability to bounce back from whatever their shift may throw at them. You’ll learn how to shut it out, focus on the task at hand and prioritise delivering a high standard of patient care.

Spinning plates

An Accident and Emergency nursing job requires a lot of multitasking. Combining a large number of patients, various different symptoms and a hectic work environment – you’ll need to keep you cool and focus on prioritising the most critical cases. There will be times when you’ll feel spread too thin, caring for many patients at once, with no idea what will be behind the next curtain. Mastering the art of multitasking takes time and practice, but you will get there. It’s your responsibility to give the best standard of treatment to all your patients, whatever their reason for being in A&E.


A job as an A&E nurse will give you experiences that you’ll never forget. Interacting with people from all walks of life, you will gain skills that you couldn’t possibly learn anywhere else. If you love the idea of a role caring for patients in a challenging and fast-paced environment, then perhaps A&E nursing is the perfect career for you.