Emergency Room Technician Job Description
Emergency room technicians, called ERTs, assist with patient care in emergency rooms at hospitals. Under the direction of doctors and nurses, they provide valuable services that speed up the emergency process to deliver quicker, better treatment. Emergency room technicians generally work full-time. Since hospital emergency rooms are open around the clock, shifts vary considerably and may require working nights, weekends, and holidays. Emergency room technicians spend a great deal of time on their feet standing and moving around, so physical fitness and stamina are necessary.
While many people make a career out of being an ERT, quite a few use the position as a building block to later become paramedics, emergency medical technicians, registered nurses, or even doctors. Job prospects in emergency medicine are promising. With the aging of baby boomers, experts predict an increase in health-related emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes. This situation should increase the demand for ERTs and others trained in emergency procedures.
Emergency Room Technician Duties and Responsibilities
Both clinical and clerical activities dominate an emergency room technician’s day. By examining job postings, we’ve discovered these tasks to be core ones that employers expect ERTs to perform:
Assisting with Procedures
Information needs to be gathered quickly and efficiently in emergency situations. ERTs often collect data, such as height and weight, as well as vital signs, such as temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. They may draw blood or acquire other lab specimens and get them to the proper place. Other tasks may include setting up equipment, hooking people up to medical machines, moving patients to a different area, inserting catheters, monitoring patients as they wait for further treatment, reading EKG outputs, placing casts, and treating wounds.
To keep operations running smoothly, ERTs may assist with paperwork and communication regarding patient admission, transfer, and discharge. They also may be called upon to record patient information on charts or in a computer system.
Emergency rooms can be chaotic places. ERTs work to create a clean, safe environment conducive to patient care. This may involve actions such as getting messes cleaned up, restocking medical supplies, inspecting/cleaning medical equipment, and sanitizing rooms.
Patients in pain can become anxious or irate. Emergency medical technicians may attempt to keep people calm and reassure them that proper care will be administered. They also may talk to relatives to convey basic information about what is being done.
Emergency Room Technician Skills
ERTs are team players comfortable communicating with higher-level staff. They are capable of understanding directions and following orders precisely. Other qualities that successful ERTs frequently possess include:
- Multitasking to handle various demands
- Prioritizing to make certain the most critical situations are attended to first
- Remaining calm in the face of stress and unforeseen events
- Listening actively to understand what a patient is experiencing
Emergency Room Tools of the trade
As might be expected, ERTs use a variety of things when performing their job. The following are some of the most common:
- Thermometer – used to take a patient’s temperature
- Blood pressure cuff – device that measures a person’s blood pressure
- EKG machine – device that records the electrical activity of the heart through electrodes placed on the skin
- IV – an apparatus that delivers fluid to a patient intravenously
- Sutures – stitches that sew parts of the body back together
- Specimens – blood, urine, tissue, and other bodily samples taken from a patient to be tested in a lab
- Splint – strips of hard material used to keep a broken bone from moving
- Cast – a stiff dressing, often made of plaster of Paris, that keeps a broken bone from moving
- Wheelchair – wheeled seating device used to transport a patient around the facility
Emergency Room Technician Education and Training
ERTs often start their education by passing an American Heart Association course in basic life support for healthcare providers. This class teaches how to relieve choking, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and use an automated external defibrillator (AED). They then move on to a vocational school or community college to study the basics of emergency medicine, such as bleeding control and shock management. Besides coursework, such programs — which typically take nine months to two years to complete — often include a hands-on component at a hospital. Before hitting the job market, candidates must earn a license. Requirements vary by state but generally involve passing an exam. After landing a job, continuing education may be necessary to keep renewing that license. Likewise, obtaining specialty certifications can impress employers.
Emergency Room Technician Resources
Being an emergency room technician can be a stressful, though highly rewarding, job. To aid in the decision about whether such a career would be a good fit for you, we’ve compiled some additional sources of information:
Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine Manual – One reviewer calls the 8th edition of this classic guidebook the “gold standard, go-to reference for any emergency department professional.” Others praise its thoroughness and its full-color photos and illustrations.
Emergency Medical Services – This LinkedIn Group of more than 32,000 members provides a networking forum for anyone interested in emergency medical services.
American Academy of Emergency Medicine – This specialty society is committed to the advancement of emergency medicine worldwide and may be able to answer questions you have about the role emergency room technicians play in outstanding patient care.
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