Emergency medicine in the Palm Springs area could use some help. Steadily rising numbers of ER visits throughout the Coachella Valley have pushed area emergency departments and personnel near capacity, according to The Desert Sun.

That’s good news for RNs interested in ER nursing careers in Palm Springs.

Emergency nursing ranks among the most in-demand nursing specialties throughout the country. HealtheCareers, a recruitment and career resource company dedicated to the healthcare industry, gave ER nursing the No. 1 spot among the top 10 nursing positions in high demand, based on data crunched from its job board last year. Travel nursing companies, which fill pockets of need and serve as bellwethers of shortages, consistently list ER nursing among high-growth job opportunities.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts nurse hiring will outpace other professions within the next decade. Opportunities in emergency nursing are anticipated to swell, making the field an attractive option not only for new nurses, but also experienced RNs working in other specialties.

What’s behind the need?

Factors that contribute to a need for emergency nurses in the Palm Springs area mirror those of the country in general.

In November, the Wall Street Journal highlighted two simmering trends that have bubbled up to make the market for nurses hot: an improving economy and the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

Industry analysts identified 2008’s financial crisis as a principle reason older nurses have delayed retirement. Many veteran nurses held on to their positions as their spouses or partners suffered layoffs; they postponed retirement or cutbacks in working hours as they waded through a murky economic recovery.

A drop in the unemployment rate and other indicators of an improving economy is prompting experienced RNs to hang up their stethoscopes. The chief nursing officer for the nation’s largest hospital organization described an imminent departure of long practicing nurses as “a retirement wave.” Healthcare economist and nursing professor Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, forecasts the nursing profession will lose one-third of its workforce — about one million nurses — to retirement within the decade.

That wave of experienced nurses exiting the profession will leave holes in its wake at the same time demand for healthcare services — and the nursing professionals trained to meet those demands — are rising. Expanded insurance coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act has created a surge in patients. But while an influx of new graduate nurses is expected to offset increasing numbers of nurse-retirees, a gap in nursing experience could take years to fill.

Experts predict certain regions of the U.S., including California, will feel the strain of too many patients and not enough experienced nurses to treat them. Shortages of nurses in these areas could be further complicated by a shortage of knowledge as long-time nurses leave the workforce and newer nurses fall short of the experience needed to keep up with rising healthcare demands, Buerhaus says.

Will the need for emergency nurses continue?

While the Affordable Care Act intended to alleviate the strain on hospital emergency departments by shifting care to community settings, in the short-term at least, the opposite has occurred. An influx of patients new to health insurance coverage and unfamiliar with the complex healthcare system has tended to land in already strapped emergency departments.

Along with population growth, the federal healthcare legislation has led to a sharp rise in ER visits throughout the Palm Springs area. Eisenhower Medical Center has seen an increase in annual emergency visits since its expansion of its facilities in 2008. In 2015 alone, more than 75,000 patients were seen in the Eisenhower Tennity Emergency Department, according to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development; more than 61,000 of those visits did not result in hospital admission.

Regardless of proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act in 2017, industry watchers do not see a letup in use of hospital emergency services happening any time soon. With a healthcare environment in transition, emergency nurses can expect to continue to see not only patients in need of primary care services, but also those who are very ill from previously untreated disease, including hypertension, diabetes, and mental and behavioral health disorders.

As these patient populations grow, so too will the need for qualified emergency nurses. Particularly for experienced nurses, ER nursing offers long-term career stability, not to mention salaries that are typically higher than offered by other specialties.

How can I get ready for an ER nursing career?

Whether you’re an experienced RN or you’re just starting out in nursing, follow these steps to begin your path to an exciting career in emergency nursing.

  1. Conduct a self-assessment. Be sure you want to pursue the specialty for the right reasons, and determine whether ER nursing is a good personal and professional fit.
  2. Research the specialty. Read journal articles specific to emergency nursing, investigate the websites of emergency nursing organizations, such as the Emergency Nursing Association, and attend conferences. Social media groups on channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can also give you insights into what it’s like to practice in emergency nursing.
  3. Update your knowledge. Attend classes to ensure you’re well versed in advanced life support and other skills required by emergency departments. Look for continuing education opportunities focused on ER nursing skill development or issues pertinent to emergency nurses, and make a plan to pursue advanced certification, such as the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential.
  4. Connect with ER nurses. Network with nurses practicing in emergency settings to learn about the day-to-day challenges and rewards of the specialty — and possibly secure a mentor.

Eisenhower Medical Center has immediate openings for emergency RNs. Learn more about our Tennity Emergency Department and apply for your ideal ER nurse position.

Originally posted on 1/12/2016

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