ER Nurses. Read This! - page 6
After circling the drain with compassion fatigue, I stumbled upon this article that was published in the ACEP: read it and tell me you don't feel proud! Guest Editorial ACEP News September 2006... Read More
May 4, '07It's nice for ER nurses but is a tremendous slap in the face to the rest of us who work in other areas but work just as hard.
May 4, '07
I commend Dr. Baehren for his recognition of emergency room nurses. But many of the actions he mentioned are also performed by other critical care nurses. I work in a surgical trauma ICU. We also lift 300 lb. patients. We also take unprovoked verbal lashings from physicians who think they have a right to treat us like dirt. We also prevent dangerous orders from being blindly followed. We also absorb penetrating stares from families and visitors who think that we are only there to take care of their loved one and the hell with anyone else. We also function "under the gun", often managing multiple Level I traumas along with a crashing patient we just got from the floor. We are always "ready" to take a patient. We would NEVER delay a patient coming up from the ER. Often times circumstances are out of our control because our unit is full and we must wait until a floor bed opens. We very often don't eat until the end of our shift, if we even eat at all, let alone go to the bathroom. Our productivity also "expands gracefully" when critical patients are admitted. Patients are not always brought to us "washed and folded". We are the ones that clean the blood from a fresh head would that matts hair. We are the ones that make the patient presentable so the families are not frightened. We also deal with patients who are "cantankerous, uncooperative and violent". We also deal with visitors who have those same characteristics. Do only ER nurses get into heaven via the "fast lane"? We are also sworn at, demeaned, spit on, threatened (by both patients and families), kicked, and slugged. I personally have been biten by a patient and needed antibiotics for 7 days. We also give solace to families while taking care of their loved ones. Last weekend I was taking care of a patient who was an organ donor. This just saps energy out of you, both physically and emotionally. We also sit with and console families. We try to explain things to them in a language that they can understand. It is not only an ER nurse who "loves their neighbors". We also care for those whom society renders invisable. And we do it with grace. I am proud of the nurses I work with. And I am proud of the care we give our patients. Yes, ER nurses should be recognized. They do a tremendous job. And the fact that Dr. Baehren recognized the nurses he works with is heartwarming. But I believe all nurses should be recognized for the wonderful jobs they do.
Last edit by Ann RN on May 4, '07 : Reason: typo
May 8, '07What a great article! I just sent it to my co-workers for Nurse's Week.
Thanks for posting that.
May 15, '07I have heard a lot about the insane amount of stress and work that the ER nurses have to cope with, but they are such amazing role models to me! I want so much to be one (though I am not sure I have that much patience...)
May 15, '07Sniff, Sniff, Is that a big lump in my throat or am I having a tracheal spasm.. Great article.
Jun 26, '07That was wonderful! Brought tears to my eyes. I know I really needed that. Everything he said was so true. TY
Jul 2, '07I have 2 RN friends in the Emergency Dept. I agree with the doctor who wrote this article and wow, they need to hear this--Thanks!
Jul 4, '07That's was a glowing endorsement of ED nursing. I am a new grad RN and an ED preceptee. I am so psyched to be doing this job and I am so luving the work. I hope I can live up to the image this article painted.
Jul 23, '07An awsome article. I am posting this one in our ER break room.
It will give insiration on a hard day and remind us of why we are all here.
I am a recent RN grad, that started as a tech and became an ER nurse.
I often question myself; why I'm doing this job, esp. when dealing with all the stuff that is mentioned in this article.
Carol Weeks RN
Quote from ERERERafter circling the drain with compassion fatigue, I stumbled upon this article that was published in the ACEP: read it and tell me you don't feel proud!
By David F. Baehren, M.D.
For a generation or two, we have lamented the loss of role models in society.
As parents and individuals, we naturally seek out others we would like to emulate. Sadly, a serious search through the popular culture leaves us empty-handed and empty-hearted. Thanks to a long list of legal and moral shenanigans, many entertainers, politicians, and athletes long since abdicated this momentous position of responsibility.
We usually look afar for heroes and role models, and in doing so overlook a group of professionals who live and work in our midst: nurses.
And not just any kind of nurse: the emergency nurse. There are plenty of people involved in emergency care, and no emergency department could function without all of these people working as a team. But it is the emergency nurse who shoulders the weight of patient care. Without these modern-day heroes, individually and collectively we would be in quite a pinch.
This unique breed of men and women are the lock stitch in the fabric of our health care safety net. Their job is a physical, emotional, and intellectual challenge.
Who helped the paramedics lift the last 300-pound patient who came in?
Who took the verbal lashing from the curmudgeon giving admitting orders over the phone?
Who came to tell you that the guy you ordered the nitro drip for is taking Viagra?
The emergency nurse has the thankless job of sitting in triage while both the long and the short buses unload at once. With limited information, they usually send the patient in the right direction while having to fend off some narcissistic clown with a zit on his butt. They absorb the penetrating stares from weary lobby dwellers and channel all that negative energy to some secret place they only tell you about when you go to triage school.
Other kinds of nurses serve key roles in health care and attend to their patients admirably. However, few function under the gun like emergency nurses do.
It is the emergency nurse who cares for the critical heart failure patient until the intensive care unit is "ready" to accept the patient. The productivity of the emergency nurse expands gracefully to accommodate the endless flow of patients while the rest of the hospital "can't take report." Many of our patients arrive "unwashed." It is the emergency nurse who delivers them "washed and folded." To prepare for admission a patient with a hip fracture who lay in stool for a day requires an immense amount of care--and caring.
Few nurses outside of the emergency department deal with patients who are as cantankerous, uncooperative, and violent. These nurses must deal with patients who are in their worst physical and emotional state. We all know it is a stressful time for patients and family, and we all know who the wheelbarrow is that the shovel dumps into.
For the most part, the nurses expect some of this and carry on in good humor. There are times, however, when the patience of a saint is required.
In fact, I believe that when emergency nurses go to heaven, they get in the fast lane, flash their hospital ID, and get the thumbs-up at the gate. They earn this privilege after being sworn at, demeaned, spit on, threatened, and sometimes kicked, choked, grabbed, or slugged. After this, they go on to the next patient as if they had just stopped to smell a gardenia for a moment.
Great strength of character is required for sustained work in our field. The emergency department is a loud, chaotic, and stressful environment. To hold up under these conditions is no small feat. To care for the deathly ill, comfort suffering children, and give solace to those who grieve their dead takes discipline, stamina, and tenderness. To sit with and console the family of a teenager who just died in an accident takes the strength of 10 men.
Every day emergency nurses do what we are all called to do but find so arduous in practice. That is: to love our neighbors as ourselves.
They care for those whom society renders invisible. Emergency nurses do what the man who changed the world 2,000 years ago did. They look squarely in the eye and hold the hand of those most couldn't bear to touch. They wash stinky feet, clean excrement, and smell breath that would give most people nightmares.
And they do it with grace.
So, here's to the emergency nurse. Shake the hand of a hero before your next shift.
DR. BAEHREN lives in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, and practices emergency medicine. He is the author of "Roads to Hilton Head Island." He welcomes your feedback at DFBaehren@ameritech.net.
Aug 2, '07One of my favorite ER Docs handed me a copy of this after a pretty bad pediatric case I had came to a close. I keep it next to my bed and look at it when I question why I'm still doing this.
Aug 2, '07i posted this in my break- room. every one is so busy i have not gotten any comments on it yet, but i bet when it becomes discovered, copies will be made. i just loved this article.Quote from no er holdsone of my favorite er docs handed me a copy of this after a pretty bad pediatric case i had came to a close. i keep it next to my bed and look at it when i question why i'm still doing this.