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The hospital setting requires various types of care. If you’re looking for rewarding opportunities on where to be placed, ask yourself what nursing role you’re more suitable to fill based on your experience and qualifications. 

Here are two of your nursing specialties options. Let’s look at the differences between ER nurses and floor nurses to help you decide on your next steps to take. 

The Demand to Respond: The Role of an Emergency Room (ER) Nurse 

The work of an ER nurse is crucial to saving a person’s life. This nurse is the first to take action during emergencies. They are calm and collected in the face of someone else’s panic. 

Expectations at Work 

ER nursing is a fast-paced occupation and will demand you to immediately respond to patients because, most of the time, you will be required to help save someone’s life. Due to how fast things are around the emergency department, you need to be able to make sound decisions quickly. 

You have to be patient. You may have to assess a patient’s situation while their companion is becoming irate or impatient. If they also happen to bring a misbehaving kid to the room, you will have to be patient with telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. 

The Responsibilities of Emergency Room Nurses 

As a nurse in the ER, you would need to look after patients who need immediate attention in a challenging environment. Here are some tasks you may be asked to do

  • Inserting IVs into the patient’s body 
  • Washing and dressing wounds of various kinds 
  • Providing medications and blood products 
  • Providing care for traumas and stabilizing the patients 
  • Conducting or assisting in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) 
  • Educating the sick persons and their companions about their disease and their treatment 
  • Helping in the setting of fractures 
  • Aiding in the intubation of patients 
  • Releasing your medically stable patients 
  • Treating allergic reactions and critical injuries 
  • Assisting in the transferring of patients to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), medical-surgical unit, or stepdown unit¹ 

Wage Based on Experience 

An entry-level ER nurse with experience that’s less than a year can earn an average hourly rate of $27.42. An experienced Registered Nurse (RN) in the Emergency Room can earn an average of $36.82 with their 10 to 19 years of experience. 

Educational Background of ER Nurses 

If you want to have a career as an ER nurse, you will need to take up a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) from an accredited school. Afterward, you will need to pass the NCLEX examination for registered nurses. 

Caring to Stabilize: The Role of a Floor Nurse 

If you want to become a floor nurse, you would be assigned to a nursing unit that’s different from the stepdown or intensive care units. You will be able to work in various areas of the facility, such as the stroke floor, neuro, medical-surgical, orthopedics, cardiology, pediatrics, and more. 

Expectations at Work 

If you become a floor nurse, you will look after patients who are more medically stable. They still require additional surveillance, interventions, and monitoring during their stay. 

In this role, you may discharge a few patients and then get some admissions later on. You will have a maximum number of patients to look after during shifts and you will assist them for longer periods compared to patients in the ER. 

The Responsibilities of Floor Nurses 

As a floor nurse, your role in caring for patients will be heavily based on routines. Here are some job duties you may be assigned to accomplish: 

  • Observing patients for any sign of physical or emotional discomfort  
  • Monitoring their vitals, labs, assessments, and other medical statuses 
  • Work with a medical team to implement a care plan 
  • Educating the patient on their current situation and progress 
  • Coordinating and scheduling tests and procedures 
  • Making sure that instruments and equipment are available and preparing them for use during examinations or surgical procedures in the operating room 
  • Administering medication and treatment 
  • Providing emotional support to the patients, their companions, and family members 
  • Communicating with other healthcare providers and staff members regarding the patient’s status 
  • Responding to any questions related to the patient’s case² 

Wage and Educational Background 

The hourly pay of a floor nurse is similar to that of an emergency nurse. Their wage would only differ based on their educational attainment and years of experience. The education requirements for both nursing jobs are also the same. 

Built to Care: The Main Differences Between Floor Nurses and ER Nurses 

If you’re curious about the major differences between each nursing type, here are the things you would need to take note of. See for yourself which one suits you best. 

1. ER nurses usually see more critical situations and assist more patients at a time than floor nurses. 

An emergency nurse may assist 5 to 10 sick individuals at a time. Some of them will have minor issues while others don’t need to be in the emergency room at all. Some may have very life-threatening concerns. 

Meanwhile, floor nurses may start with 10 patients to assist, but they may discharge 8 of them and send 2 to the ICU. More patients may come in as others are transferred or discharged. The number of patients a floor nurse may have at a time can be unpredictable. 

2. Floor nurses usually see one kind of patient. 

ER nurses usually attend to people across different age groups. You may end up attending to an eight-year-old who choked on their food while assisting a 30-year-old who got into a car accident. 

Floor nurses are usually assigned to one patient type or people who suffer from the same issues. Cardiology nurses handle patients with cardiac-related concerns, neuro-floor nurses attend to patients suffering from nervous system-related cases. 

A floor nurse will most likely attend to concerns under one branch of medicine while an ER nurse may end up assisting unique cases under various branches. 

3. There are some overlaps in duties. 

Both nurses will be coordinating with the medical team, assessing patients, and providing them with their medications. Both will also help with procedures and the discharging and transferring of patients. 

The difference is that ER nurses will have to perform a broader variety of duties due to how diverse the cases are at the emergency department. 

4. Both nurses will thrive on soft skills. 

Both nurses need to be compassionate as they quickly attend to the needs of their patients. They must have enough patience to deal with any uncertainties in the hospital and the ability to cope in case any of their patients don’t make it. 

When it comes to handling data, both nurses must be organized and should pay great attention to detail. This is because the way they interpret or read results can greatly impact the situation of their patients. 

They should also have good interpersonal skills and exceptional communication skills. Nursing can be a socially exhausting profession with how many people you would need to interact with in a day. 

A very good nurse can stretch themselves between the needs of the patients and that of their medical team so that service can be provided diligently to every patient.³ 

Serve your patients with compassion. 

Whichever nursing role you choose to fill in, your purpose is to serve with compassion. People will need your help to improve their quality of life. Act fast and with genuine care. 


Care for your career as much as you care for those in need. PRS Global will help you connect with employers that are looking for their next ER nurse or floor nurse. Our direct-hire services will guarantee that you can find the next healthcare role most suited to your skill set. 

Contact us! 


1 Kleber, Kati. “Major Differences Between ER Nurses and Floor Nurses.” FRESHRN, 15 Oct. 2022,

2 “What Does a Floor Nurse Do?” CLIMB, 4 Nov. 2022,

3 “10 Qualities That Make a Great Nurse.” Minority Nurse, 5 Jul. 2016,