How to Become a Burn Care Nurse: Education and Career Roadmap

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a burn care nurse. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as a burn care nurse.

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Should I Become a Burn Care Nurse?

Burn care nurses help treat burn victims from the initial trauma treatment to recovery and post-trauma therapy. Nurses spend many work hours on their feet and must take precautions against back injuries from lifting or moving patients.

Not every hospital or medical center has a specialized burn unit; they tend to be concentrated in larger hospitals and teaching centers. Burn unit nurses can get a position with only an associate's degree, but certification and higher education can provide an edge over other candidates.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree, or bachelor's degree required
Degree Field Nursing
Licensure and Certification Licensure as a registered nurse is required; certification in burn care is helpful
Key Skills Critical thinking, service orientation, careful judgment and decision making skills; specialized nursing skills
Salary (May 2018) $71,730 per year (median salary for registered nurses)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May, 2018), O*Net Online

Steps to be a Burn Care Nurse

Step 1: Earn an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree

The first step in becoming a burn care nurse is to earn a degree in nursing. Working in a burn unit requires a registered nurse designation. To qualify for licensure as registered nurses, candidates must complete an approved degree program in nursing. There are three choices: an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

Step 2: Become a Licensed Nurse

Registered nurses must be licensed in the state where they practice. The license proves that a candidate fulfills the necessary educational and practical requirements to treat patients. Once nurses are licensed, they can then be hired in a burn care center. Burn care nurses treat patients from the initial burn through recovery and follow-up treatments.

Step 3: Consider Earning Certification

While a nurse can start in a burn unit after RN licensure, there are also certifications available for nurses specializing in specific areas of medicine such as burn treatment. Professional certification provides the candidate has specialized knowledge in the subject area and provides an edge when applying for burn unit positions. Candidates may complete specialized training programs in order to qualify for certification exams.

Step 4: Advance Your Career With Continuing Education or a Master's Degree

Some higher-level or supervisory positions in a burn unit require not only an undergraduate degree in nursing, but may also prefer a master's degree. A master's degree will ensure candidates are qualified for most positions in a burn unit. Some schools even offer specific master's degrees in trauma, critical care, and emergency nursing.

Developments in burn medicine require nurses to continue learning if they wish to advance. This education can come in the form of online or college classes and from workshops at the hospital.

Burn care nurses are registered nurses who have completed an approved nursing program that results in an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or diploma. State licensure is required. Voluntary certification can improve job prospects. Continuing education, including earning a master's degree, may be required for career advancement.

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