Rising emergency department visits driving demand for nurses

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Catastrophes like the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco and the Boston Marathon bombings have highlighted the extraordinary work of emergency departments (ED) and their indispensable role in health care.

While disasters such as these are rare, emergency medicine plays a pivotal role in our nation’s health care system every day. Emergency nurses, in particular, play an integral role in minimizing devastation when tragedy strikes.

Nursing-1In addition to providing care in critical circumstances, EDs frequently address the health care needs of the uninsured that do not have access to non-emergency health care providers. Many patients – nearly 80 percent, including those who have insurance – report visiting the ED if they do not have immediate access to care from a physician or other health care provider, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control.

This data reflects a growing trend – visits to EDs are on the rise. From 2001 to 2008, ED visits increased 60 percent faster than population growth during an eight year period, according to a study published in-“Annals of Emergency Medicine.” The number of ED visits is expected to increase as the national population grows, and the U.S. population is projected to increase by nearly 27.3 percent by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 National Projections.

This presents a challenge for communities as health care system consolidations and closures spread. The “Journal of the American Medical Association” reports that from 1990 to 2009, the number of EDs in non-rural areas declined by 27 percent. Hospitals will need to adapt to increases in the volume of patients seeking immediate care by being equipped with emergency professionals who can provide prompt valuation and care. –

“Emergency nurses have the knowledge and skills to provide immediate assessment of patients and work quickly with physicians to determine next steps for treatment and care,” says JoAnn Lazarus, MSN, RN, CEN, 2013 president for the Emergency Nurses Association. “In emergency nursing, no two days are the same. Nurses must know how to help treat everything from broken bones to a heart attack, while remaining calm and acting as a patient advocate.”


Working in an ED requires a firm foundation of basic nursing skills because of the urgent nature of emergency situations. Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs that include critical care courses, like those offered through Distance Minnesota, can prepare students interested in embarking on a career in the specialization.

Whether you are seeking to advance in your current career or embark on a new one, career opportunities in the Health industry are many. And now, obtaining the skills you need to be successful are more accessible and affordable than ever. To learn more about the Distance Minnesota Health programs, visit distanceminnesota.org.

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