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Disciplines: Nursing
Hours: 2 Contact Hours
Author(s): Erik J. Usher, RN, BS, CEN, CPEN, EMT-P, CFRN
Peer Reviewer(s): Alicia R. Dean, RN, MSN, CNS, APRN
Item#: N1661
Contents: 1 Course Book (38 pages)
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Initial Assessment of the Trauma Patient

Price $16.95
Item # N1661
When available, the Online Course format is included with the hard copy, eBook, or audio book formats!

Release Date: February 4, 2016

Expiration Date: February 28, 2019

Trauma nurses work in many environments, including prehospital, emergency department, operating room, anesthesia, critical care, floor, and rehabilitation. Trauma nursing as a discipline is challenging and exciting in the anticipation of the next unknown case, regardless of whether in the acute setting or long-term rehabilitation backdrop. Trauma nurses work closely with other team members to assess and care for the patient. An organized and standardized approach is essential, and strong fundamental skills are requisite. These abilities critically affect the treatment and outcomes of injured patients, particularly in the first hour after the incident.

Organized and comprehensive initial assessment of the trauma patient is essential for recognizing life-threatening injuries and for determining priorities in care. The initial nursing assessment of the trauma patient consists of two sections, the primary and secondary surveys. The entire assessment should be completed within 2 to 5 minutes of patient contact. It is an orderly, systematic approach to the patient to ensure identification of all injuries.

This course discusses high risk patients who require priority treatment, the assessment steps performed in primary and secondary assessment, and interventions to manage life threatening conditions. After completing this course, the nurse will be able to perform an initial assessment of the trauma patient.


Orthopedic Nurses – ONCB has approved this course for 2 Category B contact hours toward recertification.

This course is an extraction of, and should not be taken in conjunction with N1662 Essentials of Trauma Nursing (30 contact hours) or N1676 Nursing Assessment of the Trauma Patient (15 contact hours).

Course Objectives

  • Identify patients at high risk for clinical deterioration who require priority treatment.
  • Differentiate the assessment steps performed in the primary versus the secondary assessment.
  • Describe interventions to manage life-threatening conditions.
  • Indicate the appropriate use of adjunct equipment or tests during the initial assessment.


Erik J. Usher, RN, BS, CEN, CPEN, EMT-P, CFRN, has more than 27 years of widespread clinical trauma experience, most recently as a rotor-wing flight nurse/paramedic for Bayflite Aeromedical Program out of St. Petersburg, Florida. Erik began his trauma career in 1988 in Bristol, Connecticut, working for a busy hospital-based EMS agency. While continuing to work EMS, Erik obtained a diploma in nursing at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, where he then started his trauma nursing career in the emergency department of one of the state’s largest and busiest Level I trauma centers. In 1998, Erik began working for University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, the busiest Level I trauma center based on ISS Severity at the time in the United States. In concert with working in the freestanding Resuscitation Department, Erik began his flight nursing career for Mercy Air in 1998, where he helped establish the Las Vegas medevac flight program. Erik became the manager of the Las Vegas base while also maintaining his skills in the trauma center as a nurse and in EMS as a street paramedic. Erik has been an active speaker at national conventions as well as a lead instructor for advanced procedural cadaver laboratories throughout the country. Erik maintains active credentials as an instructor for the Emergency Nurses Association Trauma Nursing Core Course as well as with the American Heart Association as a Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor. Erik maintains board certifications as a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse, and Certified Flight Registered Nurse. He holds a bachelor’s degree in health administration and has been published in several textbooks and medical journals.


Alicia R. Dean, RN, MSN, CNS, APRN, earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University and her master of science degree in nursing with a concentration in adult health trauma from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her clinical background spans more than 30 years working in intensive care units and emergency departments in several Level I trauma centers. She has been a clinical nurse specialist for over 20 years. She spent most of those years as the clinical nurse specialist in ED/Critical Care/Trauma at Charity Hospital/University Medical Center, a Level I trauma center in New Orleans. She is currently the Director for Continuing Nurse Education at LSUHSC School of Nursing. She is active in the Emergency Nurses Association, serving on a local, regional, and national level. She has been on the board of directors for the Louisiana Council of Emergency Nurses for over 20 years and is a past state president. She served as a planning committee member for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 National ENA Leadership Conference. She also served as the Planning Committee Chairperson for the 2013 National ENA Annual Conference and as a Planning Committee Member for the 2014 National ENA Annual Conference.

  • Courses must be completed on or before the expiration date noted in the course description above.
  • You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
  • Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that this course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support.
  • All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.