The purpose of an internship/orientation is to get you ready to practice independently, NOT to have you perform gofer tasks for the already overworked nurses. This applies to nurses who are already licensed and begininng a career in ER nursing (or any area for that matter), or a graduate nurse awaiting NCLEX testing. I can really sympathize with you as I had a very similar experience recently. I had been out of school for several years with LTC experience and wanted desperately to break into ER nursing. The only facility that would take me with no critical experience was one hour away from home, but I wanted it so badly that I went for it. Since I had had the LTC/skilled experience, I was ok until I was assigned the critical care area. The facility that I worked for was one of the busiest ERs in the state and from day one, my so-called preceptor went one way and I had to run the other--it was the only way that we could complete the patient assignment, an assignment that was supposed to be for one RN! Critical care patient assignments consisted of at least three criticallly ill pts, sometimes four, and there were always another 2-3 on stretchers in the hall, your so-called "stablized" pts, unmonitored, of course, as there were never enough portable monitors to go around. I was very scared about the volume of the assignment and felt that there was nno way I could safely handle this number of critically ill pts (wasn't unusual for you to have 2 vented, one active GI bleed, or a code, drug od, etc) When I spoke to "the powers that be" in charge of the ER about how unsafe I felt that this was, especially in light of how little critical care experience I did have, I was told point blank that just because I had no critical care experience, they were not going to lighten or change the pt assignment, and if I wanted to work there, I had to "learn how to just deal with it!" Talk about pt safety, not to mention licensing issues! Well, I tried my best to deal with it and lasted slightly less than one year. I left without notice after "dealing with" an expecially high volume, high accuity and dangerously understaffed weekend and have not been able to find employment since because my previous employer has chosen to badmouth me because I felt that I had no other choice but to leave under those horrific and unsafe conditions.
Sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in how you feel and what administration can and will do to its RN's. I wish I could tell you that after you pass NCLEX, things in your ER will change for you and I appologize if I'm bumming you out with my story. If you really really want ER nursing, try to find another ER that will take you after you pass your boards and are licensed. It's just been my experience that even if you tactfully try to work things out, you may get a bad rep where you are right now. Talk to as many other nurses as you can to learn about other facilities, keep reading and studying; that knowledge will help you to keep your hard earned license safe.
The reality of nursing today is just what you and I and so many others are experiencing--very little training, very high acuity, very high volumes and an attitude from administration that this is how it is, deal with the chronic understaffing, deal with the chronic pt safety issues, find your own way to keep your license safe, and if you can't deal with the way things are, get out and find another career! So many of us are doing just that. Again, I apologize for the long winded reply, it just saddens me that this is the reality of nursing today, I just keep thinking, after all that hard work and all the sacrificing, this is how bad things really are for RN's.
Anyhow, I wish you the very best of luck when you take your boards and no matter what happens, you have friends out here on this BB. Keep us posted!