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Emergency Nurse Practitioner Career Guide

Though it may be difficult to believe, emergency rooms only existed sixty years ago to give care for actual emergencies and were manned by physicians and nurses willing to fill in the hours as required. That's a big cry from the E.R. of today. During a visit to the emergency room, advanced practice registered nurses examine, diagnose, and treat a wide range of diseases that patients of all ages present with.

In many places, emergency nurse practitioners are allowed to function independently of physicians. Their specific training allows them to immediately analyze and respond to each patient's physical health, as well as any environmental or emotional elements that may be influencing it.


Emergency care refers to the treatment of unexpected events that require immediate attention, and emergency nurse practitioners are an important part of the team that delivers such care. They are registered Registered Nurses with advanced degrees that enable them to examine, diagnose, and treat injuries and diseases that require rapid treatment.

Their education equips doctors to treat both children and adults, as well as those who are well and those who are chronically ill. They can work with or without supervision, evaluating which patients require immediate attention, making treatment decisions, monitoring patient conditions, and offering education and consulting on what is required right now and what care should be sought in the future.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Emergency Nurse Practitioners are vital in providing treatment to patients of different ages, physical conditions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Those who serve large groups of uninsured patients frequently provide services in place of family or general practitioners, as well as providing accident and trauma treatment and treating both acute and chronic diseases and ailments. Their responsibilities include:

  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating acute and chronic diseases, as well as their symptoms and flare-ups.

  • Treating individuals with less urgent illnesses who have no additional treatment options

  • Patients' resuscitation

  • Patients are prioritized and triaged.

  • Choosing medical treatment

  • Patients are monitored and evaluated.

  • Consultation and education are provided as needed.

  • Transfer of care coordination

  • Diagnostic tests are ordered and interpreted.

  • Medication and therapy prescriptions

  • Collaboration with other members of the medical team

  • Patients' rights advocacy

  • Participating in emergency preparedness and response for public health


Because emergency nurse practitioners have such significant abilities, their pay is among the highest in the nursing field. The typical yearly pay for an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the United States is $117,894, according to, with average compensation ranging from $101,992 to $143,280. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for nurse practitioners in 2020 was $111,680, with the lowest 10% of NPs making $84,120 or less and the top 10% earning $190,900 or more.

Compensation is determined by factors such as education and certifications obtained, years of experience, geographic area, and the quality of references provided. Perks and benefits can include overtime compensation, shift differentials, daycare and tuition reimbursement, as well as health, dentistry, and vision insurance, as well as paid sick leave and time off.

Highest Paying States for Emergency Nurse Practitioners

  • California - $145,970

  • New Jersey - $130,890

  • Washington - $126,480

  • New York - $126,440

  • Massachusetts - $126,050

How to Become an Emergency Nurse Practitioner

Emergency Nurse Practitioners are highly dedicated professionals whose work and quick responses save lives each and every day, so it’s no wonder that becoming one requires a significant commitment of time. Here are the steps you’ll need to take in order to become one.

  • 2 -5 years to earn an ADN or BSN

  • Pass NCLEX-RN exam

  • 2 years working in an acute care setting

  • 2-4 years to earn an MSN or DNP and become an Advanced Practice Nurse/Emergency Nurse Practitioner

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree

Becoming a registered nurse is the first step toward becoming an emergency nurse practitioner. This may be accomplished by enrolling in an ADN or BSN program and then passing the NCLEX. Nurses with an Associates Degree in Nursing will either need to augment their education by earning a BSN before enrolling in an MSN program, or they will need to enroll in an expedited RN to NP program.

Step 2: Pass the NLEX-RN

Step 3: Obtain Experience

Step 4: Finish Your MSN or DNP

Nurses will require either an MSN or a DNP to become emergency nurse practitioners or any other type of nurse practitioner. In general, an MSN is for nurses who want to specialize clinically, whereas a DNP is for nurses who want to advance to leadership roles. There's also talk of altering the qualifications for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses from an MSN to a DNP, so keep that in mind if you're thinking about continuing your education in the future.

Most universities offer full-time and part-time degree programs, as well as the option of attending classes on campus or online. Most universities offer full-time and part-time degree programs, as well as the option of attending classes on campus or online. Courses in the following areas will be included in nursing schools that prepare you for this role:


  • Advanced Clinical Diagnosis and Practice across the Lifespan

  • Advanced Health Assessment

  • Advanced Pathophysiology

  • Advanced Pharmacology

  • Differential Diagnosis and Primary Care

  • Epidemiology

  • Leadership and Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse

  • Population Health

  • Primary Care of Childbearing and Practicum

  • Research

Both classroom didactic learning and hands-on patient clinical learning will be included in the programs.

Step 5: Acquire Certifications

Most Nurse Practitioner schools have specialty tracks that focus on giving students the experience and information they need to work in emergency care. Those that do prepare their graduates for certification exams that confirm their competence in essential skills for working in an emergency department or trauma center, such as Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS) (NALS). They also train its graduates for the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Emergency Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified certification (ENP-BC) (ANCC).

Rather than taking and passing a certification test, this credentialing method requires the submission of a portfolio of work. Family nurse practitioners who desire to become Emergency Nurse Practitioners can do so by completing an exam given by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certifying Board (AANPCB). The exam tests emergency-specific knowledge, and passing it earns you the title of Emergency Nurse Practitioner-Certified.


Emergency departments are at the top of the list for having the most severe and long-term demand for highly experienced nursing workers, notwithstanding the ongoing national nurse shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for nurse practitioners will grow by 52% by 2030. Annually, competent NPs are estimated to be needed to fill 114,900 positions. The BLS, however, does not distinguish between Emergency Room NPs and other types of NPs.

The rising demand for emergency department services has increased the value of emergency advanced practice nurses. This is especially true in rural areas, where a national physician shortage has left many towns without a doctor to offer this critical service, allowing emergency nurse practitioners to position themselves as local urgent care leaders.

Continuing Education

Every five years, Emergency Nurse Practitioners must recertify. They have two possibilities for doing so:

  • Within 5 years of certification, complete 1,000 hours of emergency care clinical practice and 100 hours of emergency-related continuing education.

  • Before their existing certification expires, they must take and pass the ENP certification test.

Other Resources

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