ER burnout

  1. I have been in the ER for 9 years, working as a nurse for 4.5 years. On a daily basis, I see people come in oh so obviously for drugs, for routine breathing problems exacerbated by cigarette smoking, and the social visits who have no real medical problems. I push through my mundane day of coughs and colds just hoping that for one pt I can use my brain and actually pull from the brink of death. I don't wish harm on anyone, but I WANT TRAUMAS AND CODES! Is that mean...? I want to use my brain, I want an adrenalin rush.
    I realized today that I hate people. I know that is awful to say as a nurse, but I was yelled at by a mom who waited 4 hours with her 11 year old who 'had a stomach ache", yeah the one laughing with her friend, drinking a soda, pink warm a dry, no vomiting. I was yelled at by a man who has had a lump in his throat for 7 months!!! because he waited 2 hours in the ER for a work up. I had a young woman whose children were filthy, drinking water/milk and beautiful. she was in for "backpain" and mad she didn't get pain meds to go. How are these children going to grow up? When I see the children, either as patients or with families, who are unkempt, treated poorly and are living in bad situations, it makes me want to cry. I cannot see this anymore, it tears my heart out. I don't care about the mom yelling at me, or the guy with lump yelling at me, but when i see the big eyes of a child who isn't provided with a stable and nurturing environment, I just want to yell----who cares about your back pain, buy this kid some clothes or healthy non fried foods. How do you nurses do this job in this environment for 15+ years without going do you handle your emotions....look past all of these thoughts to do your job. because, I think I need to get out of the ER even though I love those traumas and codes. Can anyone share any advice on how to survive?
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    About ERwaitress

    Joined: Jun '09; Posts: 2
    Specialty: Emergency


  3. by   RN813
    We feel the same way on the floor. It is tough to keep upbeat and interested in your job when you don't feel useful. Why have we allowed it to become this way?? Or has it always been the same? Seems ED's are working to much with primary care rather than emergency's which is why you went in to emergency nursing. What can be done to get these people to go to a clinic or those that can to a PCP?
  4. by   srbaggett
    ER burnout is a difficult thing. I have been a nurse for 32 years. Much of that time has been spent in the operating room, but because we are a small hospital, I have also worked the Emergency Room. Like any nurse who works in the ER, you crave the adrenalin rush from a code or a major trauma, but we all know that it is the clinical patients who occupy most of our time. I see the drug abusers, the dirty children, or the yelling drunk and wonder why am I here. But, I know the reason I am there. It is to care for these same people. I try to maintain a positive attitude and be kind to all patients. It is not easy. Keep your chin up and remember the reasons you became a nurse. You can survive the daily grind of the ER.
    Still working after all these years and proud of it!
  5. by   JessicRN
    There is nothing wrong in taking a break burnout comes in different ways you can be burned out in nursing or just the ED. That is the beauty of nursing. There are sooo many different areas of nursing you can do. I took a break for 7 years and went to correctional nursing when I could not take one more day of drugged out pregnant patients and abused and neglected kids and 16 year old pregnant girls after I just had my 3rd miscarriage I did not have drunks screaming at me and trying to hit me and getting away with it as for the majority of inmates nurses are revered and respected and anyone who got out of line was met with big burly officers and loss of privleges. In corrections I had my fair share of traumas and heart attacks and attempted suicides and drug overdoses not to mention my normal clinic patients. I was in a men only facility so I did not deal with pregnancies or children or women for that matter and my assessment skills were honed because there was so much more autonomy. (I only sent inmates to the MD's if I felt they needed it otherwise I diagnosed and dispensed certain medication and treatments without an MD telling me what to do. (using standing orders)). While gone, I missed trauma nursing and I kept up with all my certifications so when I came back I was ready and I am a better nurse for it. I have been back 5 years and still going strong. I do not propose 7 years but maybe a few months or a year (we had several nurses who left for 6 months then returned one became an IV nurse another worked in post partem and another became a criticle care float nurse).
  6. by   moved_on
    If you want to survive and prosper, my advice to you is to quit your job. The high levels of insanity that you have to put up with is simply not worth it. Quit. Choose a different profession. Get a normal life. Be re-educated or re-trained. Do something that is fun. Get a normal type of job, or start a business. I did, and I am so much more happier. The only thing I regret is not quitting sooner.
  7. by   rawr117
    I got a question. As i read you blogs, i find that you are emergency room nurses. I am currently doing a research paper for my english class. I was wondering if anyone could possibly tell me about the actual happenings in the ER. I have been interested in this career for a while now, and that is one of the main reasons that I picked Emergency Room Nursing as my topic for my paper. Thanks ever so much!! Rawr117
  8. by   Nurse Hathaway
    I have shifts in the ER that burn me out, but I live in a busy city so for all the mundane pt's that have an emergency (temp of 99) I see plenty of traumas. Maybe you need a busier city so you get plenty of the high adrenaline cases.
  9. by   Scotchtwin18
    All ER nurses are that way, because after being abused by "entitled" patients and the ungodly pressure to move patients faster than ever and do a safe job/being abused by managers. You start to think why am I here, or is this really why I went into nursing??? Soon you ask yourself who am I really helping and you ask is it the guy "lost his meds", "had his meds stolen by this roommate" or the drunk ass who called you everything short of a white guy, and when he woke up with a hangover demanded narcotics, food, coffee and a cab ride home!!! BTW I am a white guy. Did I help them? Sure as hell didn't! But after the drunk the either the AMI, AMI code, code, trauma or trauma/code comes in and everybody is hyped, the room works, nobody asks much questions, but the room somehow works, everybody does their job, the patient might live or might die. But after it's all over, you've gained the respect of your co-workers, a trauma surgeon, cardiologist or ER physician. You cannot fix stupid, you cannot help those that don't want to be helped. Then your realize the only person you might have a chance on helping is the really sick ones. That feeling lasts for a second and then the next drunkicidal person comes in.