What Does an Emergency Department Manager Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An emergency department manager coordinates care in an emergency room. A facility may have several managers to provide complete shift coverage, with each manager responsible for the quality of care on assigned shifts. Usually a nursing certification is required to become an emergency department manager, and applicants may be viewed more competitively if they have postgraduate qualifications and experience in emergency room settings. Some choose to specialize in particular patient populations and may work for pediatric emergency rooms or behavioral health facilities.

Care in an emergency room is coordinated by an emergency department manager.
Care in an emergency room is coordinated by an emergency department manager.

When an emergency department manager arrives at work, it’s common to have a quick meeting with the manager from the previous shift. This allows the incoming manager to find out which cases are currently on the floor and their status. Outgoing staff can provide information that might be relevant to planning for the shift, like awareness of an incoming trauma case, or warnings that severe weather may cause an increased number of accidents. This allows the manager to decide how to prioritize care on the floor to make sure everyone gets treatment.

Emergency department managers coordinate staff and make decisions to keep operations running smoothly.
Emergency department managers coordinate staff and make decisions to keep operations running smoothly.

Much of this job is administrative. Rather than participating directly in patient care, the emergency department manager typically coordinates staff and makes decisions to keep the emergency room running smoothly. This can include calling for more staff if necessary, overseeing new employee training, and working with staff at neighboring hospitals to facilitate transfers and coverage in disasters. The emergency room manager can also set and enforce policy, including treatment protocols and ethical guidelines.

Emergency department managers may oversee ambulance personnel.
Emergency department managers may oversee ambulance personnel.

At some facilities, the emergency department manager participates in the budgeting process. This can include providing information about what the emergency department does, how many patients it sees on average, and what kinds of monetary needs must be met to keep the department operational. The job can also include ordering and monitoring supplies, hiring technicians to repair malfunctioning equipment, and setting schedules.

Emergency department managers may hire trauma nurses.
Emergency department managers may hire trauma nurses.

In the event discipline is needed in the emergency department, this member of the staff may deliver it or take part in meetings to discuss an adverse situation. Employees can be suspended or fired for violations of workplace policy, including engaging in activities that endanger patients and staff, or failing to observe confidentiality laws. If the department has special needs like high volumes of homeless patients or specific types of cases, the emergency department manager also needs to be prepared to meet those needs and organize staff effectively to address ongoing issues that may arise.

An emergency department manager may set and enforce treatment protocols.
An emergency department manager may set and enforce treatment protocols.
An emergency department manager is often tasked with maintaining inventory and ordering supplies when needed.
An emergency department manager is often tasked with maintaining inventory and ordering supplies when needed.
An emergency department manager may ensure that patient areas are thoroughly cleaned in a timely manner.
An emergency department manager may ensure that patient areas are thoroughly cleaned in a timely manner.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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