A Day in the Life of the Travel ER Nurse

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
Share this post

The life of a travel ER nurse is never dull. While there might be some occasional downtime, particularly on nightshift, it’s not something that can ever be counted on. Those who become travel ER nurses usually do so because they not only want to help people, they like the fast pace, variety and the change, and dislike routine. They enjoy the challenge of thinking on their feet, the action and ability to see the results right away.

Of course, there are no two days that are just alike when you’re working in the ER, it’s often ground zero for a multitude of life-threatening emergencies. To suggest that a typical day here can be nerve-wracking and hectic would be an understatement. But peeking into the life of an emergency room RN on any given day can provide a glimpse as to what it might be like.

An Early Morning

Twelve-hour shifts have become the norm in nursing, but most nurses love them, with the ability to work three consecutive shifts and take the rest of the week off. As a travel ER nurse, it brings a great opportunity to explore more of the destination during off-time.  

Shannon is up at 4:30 in the morning to be sure she’s at the hospital and ready for her shift at 6 a.m., downing coffee to fuel up. Once she’s clocked in, she’ll need to be focused and ready. She reviews the status of current and incoming patients and assesses the rooms she’s assigned to determine the shape their in. It’s important to be sure they are properly stocked with supplies and linens before the day gets too crazy. The “calm before the storm” is the perfect time to refill that coffee mug, but there are medications to administer and any work that is done will have to be charted, with medical histories documented.  

It doesn’t take long before a new patient arrives. He’s elderly and his wife who brought him in says he was confused and asking for his dead mother. Is it dementia or is it due to a new medication that he just started taking? She asks for his medical history and performs an electrocardiogram to ensure the patient didn’t have a heart attack. Moving from room to room now, she assess patients gracefully and effortlessly, at a fast-paced speed.


While her stomach is rumbling, Shannon is taking care of two new arrivals. Lunchtime for nurses is rarely a set period. While it’s a necessity, having the time to do it can feel like a luxury when dealing with an endless list of patients and their immediate needs. One patient is a young male with severe facial swelling and a high fever, while the other is a female with abdominal pain. The family of a third patient is asking for information on their loved one’s status. She must effectively communicate the patient’s condition and does so with a calm, caring demeanor just before grabbing a handful of nuts to soothe those hunger pangs.

Afternoon and Check-Out

In the afternoon, it’s time for a new round of meds to be distributed to Shannon’s patients and conduct follow-up tests. One patient is discharged so she provides information for home care along with prescriptions and answers his questions. No sooner is one discharged than another arrives. The day continues as such, interrupted by a Code Stroke who must be immediately assessed before being shuttled off for a CT scan.

Her feet are throbbing, but check-out time is near. Just like the beginning of the day, there’s a handover process between shifts. She’ll have to make sure that the transition goes seamlessly so that her patients get consistent care. She checks and double checks to make sure all patient information is clear and accurate before heading out the door and starting all over again in 12 hours.

In this job, there’s always something new to be challenged by or to learn almost every day. It can be tiring, exciting, chaotic, frustrating, rewarding, but never boring. Every day brings something different. It’s something that Tailored Healthcare Staffing understands, which brings the ability to address all an ER travel nurse’s needs, wants, and pain points. It’s also why THS Travel ER Nurse jobs are some of the best that you’ll find in the US. Market – and, thanks to On Demand, it’s never been easier to sign up, secure one and take control of your travel nursing experience.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
Woman standing with suitcase looking out at the city