Consider a Career as an A&E Nurse

In recognition of International Nurses Day, a healthcare recruiter discusses career opportunities for an A&E nurse. Read on to see whether this rewarding role could provide the right career path for you.
Nurse in action on energency ward

A&E nurse – Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

For ambitious students and young adults, accident and emergency nursing could be an exciting and rewarding career.
A&E nurses are vital to our healthcare system and are responsible for saving lives every day in the UK’s busy accident and emergency departments. When patients arrive at A&E, a nurse is often their first point of contact, and they provide essential support as well as identifying and providing appropriate care.
Becoming an A&E nurse in the UK requires you to not only be a registered nurse, but also to have achieved Level 1 competencies and completed a preceptorship, in which you have been introduced to the work environment within a hospital. According to UCAS, more people than ever are applying to study nursing, which is great news for A&E departments who want to bring new nurses into this specialism. But what qualities and experience do they look for in candidates?


How do I know if a career as an A&E nurse is right for me?

Hospitals, and accident and emergency departments in particular, are fast-paced environments which deal with a huge range of problems, from simple ailments to life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Despite the stresses of this environment, many people are drawn to nursing because it allows you to truly make a difference. If you have what it takes to pursue this career, your journey towards a career in accident and emergency nursing will have three key stages:

Step 1: Qualifying as a nurse

To become a nurse, you must complete a nursing degree and be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. As well as standard degrees, numerous apprenticeship nursing degrees are available, which combine learning with hands-on professional experience.

Step 2: Nursing trainee placements

Gaining some practical experience in a hospital environment is essential to building a successful career in nursing. If you can find opportunities in A&E departments, this will naturally be the best preparation for a career in this area.

Step 3: Searching and interviewing for roles

Once you have the right experience and qualifications, you can start seeking out roles in hospitals. For interview tips and other advice to support your job search, check out this A&E nursing career guide.


What are the benefits of becoming an A&E nurse?

For people who choose to pursue a career in accident and emergency nursing, there are a huge number of benefits to enjoy, alongside the challenges which naturally accompany the role. As an A&E nurse you can expect:

  • To develop skills in communication, relationship building and problem solving, which help you to become more well-rounded and confident, both as a nurse and as an individual

  • To always be in high demand, thanks to the continuous need for more A&E nurses, which will allow you to take advantage of brilliant opportunities in hospitals all over the country

  • To build invaluable bonds with both your patients and colleagues, as you share highs and lows of life in the accident and emergency department

  • To work in a constantly changing and fast-moving environment, where you never know what will happen next, as you encounter and respond to a huge range of injuries and illnesses

  • To do extremely rewarding and valuable work, and see the difference you’re making to the lives of your patients and their loved ones every day

  • To take advantage of brilliant opportunities for further learning, personal and professional development, and career progression.


What are the qualities of a good A&E Nurse

Nurses in accident and emergency departments are the backbone of a vital service. They need to be able to deal with challenging situations, and to bring a sense of order and control to a frequently hectic environment. This vital role requires some crucial character traits, such as:

  • The ability to multitask and manage many urgent cases simultaneously

  • Confidence and decisiveness while working under pressure in high-stakes scenarios

  • Great communication skills and the ability to build trusting and empathetic relationships with both colleagues and patients

  • Resilience and focus while facing urgent and distressing situations

  • Strong problem solving and decision making skills, which allow you to deploy your knowledge and expertise to improve patient outcomes

  • Empathy and sensitivity to your patients’ needs in stressful circumstances, or when they display difficult or disruptive behaviour


Find out more about a career as an A&E Nurse:

If you’re interested in learning more about careers in A&E nursing, make sure that you seek out plenty of information such as the NHS’s jobs website and MCG Healthcare’s career guide.

Other healthcare careers:

Consider a Career as a GP Doctor

Q&A: Working as a Paramedic

Q&A – Life as a Midwife

Q&A with an NHS Staff Engagement & Equality Officer



About the author

Ash Higgs is Managing Director at MCG Healthcare.

‘I’ve been involved in medical recruitment for over 5 years, initially working as a Marketing Director before transitioning into Managing Director. The Marketing position gave me a huge understanding of the issues that both Primary & Secondary Care are facing with regards to the recruitment of healthcare professionals, and this understanding helps guide business decisions. The part of my role I find the most rewarding is watching the team provide our candidates with locum and salaried roles, which in turn helps our clients provide essential medical services.’