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11 Surprising Facts About Trauma, Emergency and Transport Nurses

Emergency, trauma and transport nurses work in some of the highest-stress situations. But until recently there wasn’t a comprehensive or detailed description of this crucial workforce. That’s the goal of the 2019 Emergency/Trauma/Transport Nursing Workforce Survey (ETTS) — which highlights the struggles these health professionals face, their career goals and more.

Here are some of the most salient findings.

ETT nurses are younger than the rest of the nursing workforce.

The largest proportions of the emergency/trauma/transport nursing workforce are 30 to 39 years old (33.5 percent), female (78.8 percent), and white (87.4 percent).

There’s a higher percentage of men than the rest of the nursing work.

ETT nurses are 78.8 percent female and 21.1 percent male, versus 90.9 percent female and 9.1 percent male in the overall data from the 2017 National Nursing Workforce Survey.

They’re less likely to be advanced practice registered nurses.

Roughly 6.4 percent of ETT respondents said they’re APRN, whereas 9.9 percent of nurses in the full NNWS data set are APRNs.

Overall, ETT nurses feel prepared to do their job, but equipment poses a challenge.

Almost 70 percent of respondents reported feeling competent, and nearly 10 percent did not. One-third of ETT nurses 29 and younger and at least one-quarter of all other ages report they don’t have access to all the equipment they need to perform their job well. 

ETT nurses struggle most with stress management, critical thinking and clinical knowledge.

The following percentages of respondents indicated the following skills are lacking among fellow ETT nurses:

  • Stress management — 63.7 percent
  • Critical-thinking skills — 52.1 percent
  • Clinical knowledge and skills — 43.7 percent
  • Decision-making under pressure — 43 percent
  • Time management — 40.5 percent
  • Leadership — 39.8 percent
  • Mentorship — 39.5 percent
  • Training on specific equipment — 39.2 percent
  • Leadership/management training — 38.5 percent
  • Crisis management training — 33.1 percent
  • Workplace violence/incivility/bullying education — 30.1 percent

Roughly 80 percent of ETT nurses work in one of three settings.

The most common settings overall are ED (59.2 percent), trauma center (15.5 percent), and air (rotor wing) transport (6 percent).

They’re more likely to work full time than other nurses.

According to NNWS data, 65.3 percent of all nurses work full time, while 85.4 percent of emergency/trauma/transport nurses work full time.

They earn almost $15,000 more annually than the average nurse.

The median annual salary for emergency/trauma/transport nurses is $77,500, versus $68,000 for just emergency/trauma nurses and $63,000 for all nurses, according to NNWS data.

ETT nurses are generally satisfied with their jobs.

When asked about job satisfaction, 67 percent said they strongly agree or agree that they’re satisfied, and an even higher amount, 86.7 percent, said they are satisfied with the work. Nearly one-quarter (24.4 percent) say they frequently think about quitting; over half (54.5 percent) said they don’t. Transport nurses reported being slightly more satisfied. Almost 13 percent report no burnout symptoms, half report occasional stress, and 26.7 percent said they’re definitely burning out. Transport nurses report the lowest levels of burnout.

The nursing shortage will take its toll on ETT nursing workforce.

Some 34 percent of nurses age 29 and younger and 25.8 percent of nurses ages 30 to 39 expect to leave the field of emergency nursing within the next 4 years.

ETT nurses have a substantial impact on patient care.

Emergency/trauma/transport nurses’ most important responsibilities include: assessing, intervening, evaluating, and communicating regarding patients’ clinical conditions; increasing patient safety and preventing errors; advocating for patients with physicians and management; providing counsel and support to patients and their families; and increasing the quality, speed, and effectiveness of operations.


The emergency, trauma, and transport nursing workforce: highlights of a benchmark 2019 survey, Nursing Management.

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