Nene said it well. However...it can be a very stressful job! You can be up to your butt in alligators in an uncontrolled situation, and get several ambulances right on top of everything else, because your co-workers also are probably just as busy, and no one available to help you. It takes a LOT of prioritizing and decision-making, and sometimes this can be most difficult. I had a pt in an asthmatic crisis, and I was really fearing resp arrest, when I got a pt with a long cardiac hx having CP and 3 past MI's, then a brand new CVA with 3 bleeds in her head (confirmed later by CT scan) that was neurologically going downhill, had another that suddenly starting vomiting frank blood (ruptured esophagus). Most of the rest of the staff was on a pedi code. Then in the midst of this, Mrs. Jones (not real name) came screaming out of my CP's room, "I have an emergency!" I dropped everything and went running in there, thinking he was coding, only to hear, "nurse...I need my blankets pulled up". Grrrrrrrr.... Unfortunately, at least for me, this is more typical than not. (Sometimes I feel like I should just wear a French Maid outfit, because often that's how I feel!) It can be totally exhausting. I have had many, MANY shifts of 12.5 hours, where my 1st break was driving home in the morning, 1/2 asleep! ER can be fun, as most ER nurses and docs are rather 'warped' for the most part (don't be offended anyone!!!), and sometimes things happen that are REALLY funny, and it takes everything you have to keep you composer and remain professional. It definately has more independence than most nursing jobs
, but MAN!!! it can be unbelievably busy, where you have to make those quick decisions and hope you made the right one! There are also cardinal rules in the ER...Everyone that gets in an MVA, it's always the other person's fault. Anyone that comes in slobbering drunk and obnoxious as hell, has only had "2 beers", 14 yr old pregnancies are caused by immaculate conception, and anyone with anything in an oriface it's not supposed to be in, well...they fell on it, and of course "my doc always prescribes demerol, quaaludes, ETC Sometimes it's real hard not to be nonjudgemental. Then of course remember that anyone that comes in on backboard and spinal precautions will HAVE TO urinate immediately, and no one has food at their house! So of course you have to open the ER deli and find them something...crackers and juice are NOT what they had in mind, because they "haven't eaten" all day! (That's our responsibilty too I guess.) Be prepared for the anger when you don't have a made to order menu! I have been an ER nurse for over 20 yrs, from Level I's to Level IV's, and quite frankly I am getting really burned out! I am seriously considering moving on to some other area. What used to be fun and exciting in my younger days, is now just a lot of work! I'm not sure I want to work this hard anymore. But it will probably be a good experience for you, as long as you are not starting out in a Level I. Good Luck!!!