Find Your Road Map: Destination Trauma Nursing

Sometimes changing nursing specialties can be difficult because where you want to is so different from your current experience. However, it doesn’t always require a long route with a lot of stops along the way. Some specialties are closely related, and transitioning between them is as easy as deciding to get off at the next exit. Regardless of the distance, it takes commitment, courage, and patience. And who knows, maybe your current destination will send you on another road trip and allow you to experience nursing in a way you never thought possible.

Trauma teams are a specialized group of people who assemble to care for patients with serious injuries in the ER. They often include emergency physicians, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and nurses. The goal of this team is to resuscitate and stabilize the patients quickly and prepare them for the next phase of treatment. Having a team ready and waiting eliminates time wasted trying to get everyone together while a patient is actively crashing.

Patient Type:

  •  Nurses working on a trauma team can expect patients who have experienced a motor vehicle accident, assault, stab or gunshot wound, penetrating injury, or head injury.
  •  Trauma units will only be at designated trauma facilities. There is a tiered system that means hospitals have the resources, training, equipment, and appropriate ancillary specialty departments to care for different levels of trauma.
  •  Trauma nurses are ER nurses that have received specialized training to care for the critical nature of trauma.

Unit Pace:

  •  This is a fast-paced position as the patients are unstable and need quick intervention.
  •  It is so fast-paced that the nurses providing critical hands-on interventions usually do not chart at the time. There is a designated nurse from the team or the ER that charts in live time The mandatory documentation for the intervening nurses. After the trauma team hands of the patient to ICU or OR, the trauma nurse will chart a specialized report as an addendum for their legal protection.
  •  It is an extension of a trauma certified hospital’s ER that is capable of performing extensive medical interventions in order to stabilize critical subset of patients.

Experience Required:

  •  Most trauma teams require ER experience prior to rotating into or being placed permanently on the trauma team.


  •  Hospitals may hire diploma-prepared nurses for a position on the trauma team, but BSNs are often preferred.
  •  Trauma nurses should be certified in ACLS.
  •  Hospitals that also care for children may require pediatric advanced life support (PALS), too.
  •  You can obtain your Trauma Certified Registered Nurse after 2 years of trauma nursing.

Final Destination vs. Pit Stop

  •  Trauma nurses can become flight nurses who respond to medical emergencies via helicopter out in the field, though additional certification is required.
  •  They also transition pretty seamlessly into other high-acuity units. If trauma nurses want a slower pace, it is easy for them to transition to a lower-acuity unit.

How to Make Trauma Nursing Your Next Destination?

To reach the next step in your nursing career, you need a map to get you from where you are now to the specialty you aim to be. Knowing what the specialty is and the experience you need for a new specialty is only 2 of 6 steps to make that transition a reality.

For the other 4 steps needed to change nursing specialties:

Find Your Road Map: 6 Essential Steps to Change Nursing Specialty