ER Nurses- How do you feel about ED volunteers? - page 3

by VagusX | 10,739 Views | 24 Comments

I'm a CNA (non-working) and soon to be nursing student and I just started volunteering in my local hospital's ED. I've shadowed a retired nurse volunteer twice and will be starting my 4 hour shifts next week by myself. I feel... Read More


  1. 0
    That's pretty rude of them, and I haven't seen that happen in the ED I volunteer in. The only time I'd ever interrupt a nurse who is in the middle of making a report/treating/talking to a doctor, is if there is a medical emergency. If you haven't done so, just tell them you're busy and you'll get to that patient when you have a second and if they continue to do so, tell them not to interrupt you when you are busy. If they take offense, too bad, they probably want to become nurses and they can use it as training on growing a thicker skin.
  2. 1
    Well, I've now been an ER volunteer for about 2 months. I thought that I would chime in with an update as to my perspective of the experience.

    With respect to the recent post on the volunteer butting into the nurses conversation, I can say that that is what I consciously try to avoid doing. It is absolutely inappropriate for anyone to loudly insert their voice, uninvited, into someone's conversation. I do think that it isn't so easy for a volunteer to know when to be assertive and when to hang back. I lack assertiveness so I constantly worry that I'm not being assertive enough.

    Here's an example of how I'm addressing this kind of situation. I still haven't figured out what the right thing is to do so advice is appreciated. A call light goes on. I go in to see what the patient needs (which the nurses want me to do so that the call light can be turned off). The patient asks for a drink of water. I tell them that I need to check with their nurse first but I will let them know either way whether than can or not. I go look up which nurse is that is assigned to the patient. I find the nurse who always looks busy either charting or talking to someone else. If they are talking to someone else and I don't feel it is a lengthy or personal conversation, I hang back in the wings and wait for either the convo to end or for the nurse to acknowledge and address me. Quite often, neither of these happen in which case I let the patient know I'm working on it and wait for the opportunity to ask in a non-annoying way. When the nurse is charting, I'm not sure what to do. It feels the same to me as butting in on a convo.

    I wish that I was given more responsibilities. I'm more than eager but I'm largely ignored. I've joined forces with housekeeping though, and we kick butt turning rooms over. I never stop moving even when I've run out of stuff to do.

    The other thing I'm wondering about is what to do with patients. I go in and explain who I am and ask them (and family/friends) if they are warm enough, need the phone, or anything else. If they don't, I just tell them that I will be around if they change their minds. I'm not sure if I'm making myself available enough but it seems that in the ER, people aren't in the mindset of wanting to have a chat or have a stranger sit with them. Thoughts?

    P.S I'm in awe of the charge nurses. How do you guys do it? You are responsible for everyone, staff and patients and you always seem to be in control of it all. I am constantly impressed.
    Altra likes this.
  3. 1
    In terms of being given more responsibility I can tell you it will come (to the extent a volunteer can get more responsibility), but you need to be patient. Volunteers have a high turnover and nurses don't always want to invest responsibility in someone who is going to leave at any given moment.
    canoehead likes this.
  4. 0
    I love them, though I rarely get a chance to work with them because I work nights. Thanks for volunteering .I hope you love it.
  5. 1
    You will come out of this experience having learned far more than you ever dreamed about interpersonal communication.

    I think it's OK to be a bit more assertive when asking a quick question, such as whether the patient in room 1 can have something to drink. Trust me, if it's yes, the nurse will appreciate that you're able to do this simple thing for the patient that's going to keep them happy for the next hour. (maybe - LOL) If not - it's a simple no, and that's that. Any annoyance you perceive from the nurse is most likely not in response to YOU, personally, but to the fact that the patient/family has asked 15 times already.

    Ask families if they are familiar with the hospital and where the cafeteria is or where the restrooms are - in case they want to step away for a brief time and get coffee or something. They'll appreciate the information.

    Ask patients if they need a blanket. ER patients can't seem to get enough blankets, even in July.

    If you see a nurse discharging a patient who looks like they might need a wheelchair - offer to go retrieve that wheelchair. Or maybe you can walk with the discharged patient & family to the waiting room and remain with the patient while family goes to pull the car up.

    And if there's truly nothing else that you can see to do at the moment, go ask the unit secretary if there are charts to be put together (if the hospital is not paperless) or some other simple clerical task that you can help them with.

    Thanks for all that you do.
    thelema13 likes this.


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