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Diary of a Trauma Nurse
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My name is Cory. I am a mom, a wife, a NaNa, and a critical care nurse that lives in Nashville, TN. I have found my calling in ER/Trauma/ICU. Each day I find myself experiencing life changing events and hope that by reading my posts, you will experience and feel some of what I do. If you read nothing else, please take time to read "The Hardest Question Ever Asked". It's my very first posting. And if for some reason you think you see your story don't. It's not about you or anyone you know. =)


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Saturday, June 20, 2009


A trauma nurse is a nurse who specializes in emergency care. Trauma nursing focuses on identifying serious problems in incoming trauma cases, and on stabilizing those patients so that they can receive further medical treatment. There are a number of arenas in which a trauma nurse can work, and employment prospects in this field are generally very good, as trauma nurses are constantly in demand around the world.

One of the most common places for a trauma nurse to work is in an emergency room, processing incoming patients. Trauma nurses can also work in critical care units, applying their specialized training to patients who may be prone to experiencing medical emergencies and various crises. A trauma nurse can also work for a transport company, keeping patients stable while they are moved by helicopter or bus to a new medical facility, and trauma nurses are also vital in battlefield medical care.

The key requirement for people in this field is the ability to work while under pressure. Trauma nurses may be able to cope with chaotic environments, stressful situations, and catastrophic trauma cases. They must often contend with cultural and language barriers, and they must be able to coordinate with doctors, other nurses, and healthcare professionals who work together as a team to provide patient care. Trauma nursing can also have long and unpredictable hours, and it tends to put a lot of strain on the body, with a lot of prolonged standing, heavy lifting, and other sources of physical stress.

To work as a trauma nurse, candidates usually get their nursing qualifications and try to focus on emergency care in their nursing training. Some trauma nurses pursue additional certification in trauma or emergency care so that they are more employable after graduation from nursing school. Many like to keep up their training with trade journals, periodic workshops, and memberships in professional organizations for trauma nurses.

Work in this field can be very emotionally stressful. A trauma nurse may need to cope with very seriously injured patients along with their family members, and the ability to triage patients and injuries is critical. For example, when a patient who comes in with a gory broken leg after a car accident, the more immediate concern might be the patient's airway, even if the leg looks awful. A good trauma nurse can overlook the superficial appearance of the patient, and focus on keeping vital signs strong and stable so that a doctor will be able to provide the additional care required by the patient. source

And Most important. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

THESE CAN'T GROSS YOU OUT!!!!! Happy Nursing!

CoryTraumaRN posted today at 10:59 PM

I just got accepted to a nursing program! I'm so excited. I definitely think I want to be a trauma nurse.

I read lots of ER nurse blogs though and my concern working in ER is having to deal with all the non-emergent patients that come in for bumped toes and vicodin fixes. This would drive me INSANE!!

As a trauma nurse, are you on a different level of emergency nursing? Do you only work in trauma centers? I live in a metro area and we have 2 large hospitals that are level 1 trauma centers. I'd assume that being a nurse there, you'd only get the serious emergencies.
Congratulations Jennie!!! You are right about ER but ER can be fun too. Very fast paced. I did that for 9 years. Trauma is a whole different type of nursing. You don't "treat them and street them" you get to follow them and care for them and yes, a Level I Trauma Center only gets the worst of the worst like in the pictures.
If you want to work in one, I would suggest you work as a nurse extern in the trauma unit WHILE in your last two semesters of nursing school, then it's highly likely you will get hired on when you pass your nursing boards! Good luck and keep me posted!
i know i could handle the guts and gore but i don't think i could do the school work that it takes.
congrats to you and anyone thinking of doing this.....

Why thanks K! It's definitely an adrenaline rush!
I could handle the gory stuff, but people not so much, lol. I'd probably meltdown with the family or shut off and be called cold.

Hence why I want to be a panicked people there other than maybe a student with a last minute research paper!

But I admire nurses and find the medical field fascinating.
I am in my second year of nursing school. Last month I was hired on as a PSA in a Level I ICU department. I have learned so much. I am able to handle the stress, "gore" and death on the job and have been able to keep a positive attitude so far but I am distressed because today I am feeling an emotional "disconnect" with my husband and children. I just want to be alone and sleep.
I do three 12 hour night shifts a week and last night's was particularly busy.
I am second guessing myself now- I can "do" the job but I don't know if this feeling is temporary or if it's going to affect my family life.
My degree is in elementary education and I taught before having children. I have been a stay at home mom for eight years. So needless to say I'm a bit like a fish out of water.
Do you have any advice for someone who is new to the field? Are there strategies for coping with family at home? I just keep thinking about work (and I don't want to)
Any advice would be appreciated!
Hi Steph,

I don't know if this will help you or not but everything you are feeling is NORMAL. For one, night shift can make you feel that way no MATTER what field, ICU, Med Surge, ER, etc. So you have that turning your life upside down.
I can tell you for one, I HAVE to talk to my husband about what I go through at work and what I deal with and if I didn't have him to talk to, I would go crazy. Also, don't necessarily think because you just "want to sleep" that you are disconnecting from your family. Night shift is horrible. I did it for 8 years and I would NEVER go back. It takes a real toll on the body. Just the fact that you can handle the stress, gore and death is most of the battle. One important question I have for you is, do you ENJOY the job, do you get something out of it. I am rewarded daily with the difference I made in other's lives. You have a degree in elementary education. Did that bring you more happiness? Why didn't you go back to it? I can tell you, TOO MANY people go into nursing for the WRONG reason and it makes BOTH the patient AND the nurse miserable. Think about it and please keep in touch. My email is I would love to see how you are doing. :)
Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!
Just found this blog while perusing the web for more information on trauma nursing. I'm graduating next month, but I didn't have the opportunity to complete an externship because I'm in a second degree program and there are no summer breaks when you get your RN in 16 months. I'd love to hear if you have any tips for getting into trauma without those kinds of experiences.

I am in a medical ICU for my senior practicum, however, which is at least giving me some experience with caring for critical patients. I love it! I can't wait to graduate and get going with this amazing new career that feels tailored specifically for me! :)

Thanks so much for writing this blog!
I LOVE YOUR BLOG. your so absolutely wonderful.
I'm starting my senior year in high school. I have to decide what I want to do. Since I was little I always said I wanted to be a doctor. And then of course I changed my mind and said lawyer, then writer, the psychologist. I changed my mind so many times. Im officially a 17 year old certified accountant clerk. I like it but I don't love it. So I started searching for different careers. Thinking really hard. I want to have a career in my life that I can do different things everyday. That I can benefit to many different people. That I can use my mind and face challenges and be constantly always moving and using my creativity to pursue ideas. I want to do something that I can meet people and emphasize and do all different kinds of thing. I want a hands on job. I want to feel a rush at work. I want to be always busy. I want to have a job I LOVE. I want to help people. I want to have that. Is trauma nursing THAT job? I'm going to look more into it. But Id like your advice (:
Im a CNA and currently take care of patients with brain traumas. I'm in my second year of college, and for my intro to healthcare careers class I have to talk to my class about the details of being a trauma nurse (what I aspire to be after I get my diploma) I now have your blog bookmarked and I'm so excited to see your future posts!!
Im a CNA and currently take care of patients with brain traumas. I'm in my second year of college, and for my intro to healthcare careers class I have to talk to my class about the details of being a trauma nurse (what I aspire to be after I get my diploma) I now have your blog bookmarked and I'm so excited to see your future posts!!
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