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How long have you been in ER?


I've just started in the ER right out of school and absolutely love it! I can't imagine ever wanting to do anything else!

But I've noticed that in general, we have a young staff aside from our charge nurses and supervisors, who have been there forever. How long have you stayed in the ER? Do you think ER nurses get burnt out faster than other areas, and why?


Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.

my 2 cents

i have been in the er right out of school for 5 years now. i do think er people get burned out easier.........ecspecially in big busy places. not because of acuity or things you see? i have gotten over the 6 year old run over by a truck......and the one sqaushed in an electric seat, the 17yo girl shot three times by some 15 yo misfit........the nurse that was struck by a drunk on the freeway, while she was behind her van.......trying to help someone else out. what burns er people out, is the busy-ness, with all the family memebers that are totally irrate all the time, because they think tests, and results, are not done quick enough. they thihnk the doctor and/or nurse should be in there after each result.....and treat us like crap. that is what does it.

Been at it 22 years of a twenty eight year career. Would have been 28 of 28 except I got "Eaten" as a young Nurse several times while learning to play by female rules in a female world. Burnt several times, recovered and moved ahead in my career. when I am done I will have spent close to or over 40 years in the field which will equal approximately 2/3 of my life (God Willing) and I have no regrets, no excuses, and no retirement from Nursing, thank God I have a great wife who is very savvy to financial planning(She's an LPN) and we have small real estate holdings that when they are sold should help considerably :rolleyes: Advise? work harder and more efficiently than anyone else, not all the time, but a good part of the time:p Get all those certifications I only have ACLS at present and it suffices in semi-rural areas, and metro areas because of the "Shortage":eek: My longevity is definitely a positive factor, but when will it become a negative:o Age discrimination is something I know exists, not affecting me yet, again because of nursing shortage:) Hope this in some small way helps you to be able to "see" what lies ahead:cool:

Been in ER for 19 out of 26yrs in nursing. Will continue to do it until I physically can't.

Welcome, glad you love it!


Specializes in ER, Hospice, CCU, PCU.

Been working in ER's for >20 years. Can't imagine doing anything else. Just give me a walker with wheels and a tray on front and I'd die happily with my scrubs on (not to speak of the orthropedic shoes and support hose);)

I have been a nurse for 24 years, the last 11 spent in the ED. I enjoy the ED most times but I have also been through the same situations as the other postings(ie. verbal abuse by patients, families, as well as physical assault in which I pressed charges:eek: , the expectations of patients and family members are sometimes extreme, drunk doctors, verbally abusive doctors etc, etc.) however, what keeps me there is the staff I work with, it makes a big difference, most are supportive and caring of patients and staff. My co-workers are my sounding board as well as my backup and I thank God I work with the great nurses that I do.It is a tiring and sometimes thankless job but then again, there will be that one patient every day that thanks me for what I have done for them and makes me believe that it is worthwhile:)

If the staff is young...your ER may be the type that has NO respect for staff. I've worked ER for many, many years and I have found that staff ONLY leaves in droves when they are not being treated well by management. I stopped by the ER I worked at 2 years ago just last night. I knew the Docs and one tech. everyone else was new or a traveler. I do know where some of their nurses went...they work for me now! Or all us old war horses may have retired at the same time:D

I agree that burnout in the ER is more often because of dealing with ignorant people than what trauma you get in the doors. They think that it is like McDonalds, drive through care- fast and cheap. I get tired of the sore toe for 1 year complaining that things are not fast enough when your trying to take care of a cardiac pt. the public has no idea what we deal with. Yet they will wait 2 hours at their doctors office for their scheduled appointment and not say a word. I think it's more dealing with the ignorance than anything else.


Specializes in NICU.

Just an observation. Jessica Vets, I think you just explained your own frustration with the public... "the public has no idea what we deal with..." I agree, the toe pain for a year certainly doesn't belong in the ER. But just because someone comes in with what they believe to be an emergency (we're the ones with the medical/physiology/assessment knowledge, you know), doesn't mean they're out of line.

I did a rotation in the ER and volunteered in the ER (different hospital) while in school and I was dismayed by how some of the ER nurses behaved. They became truly offended if a patient asked how long the wait was. Just asking, not complaining. I'm not talking about the crabby-I-was-here-first toe pain x1 year people, just someone with a hand lac that is wondering. Another thing I noticed is that the nurses became upset if a pt in the waiting room was concerned about having to wait. Okay sure, their toe pain x1 year or hand lac or ear pain or whatever isn't as important as the chest pain pt that just came in...but does that toe pain person even KNOW that you guys are coding an MI pt while they're waiting? They don't know what's in the back. A lot of times we would merely tell them that "we're taking care of more critical pts now." Well, apparently that toe pain person thought their problem was emergent enough to come in so maybe they don't understand what critical means.

Actually I do agree with you to an extent. You're right, there are way too many people that come to the ER for no reason, then expect preferential treatment over critical pts. THEY are the ones that the ER nurses are complaining about, and I remember agreeing with them. But they also spoke a lot of s**t about a lot of pts that weren't really that out of line. It honestly made me really uncomfortable and ended up deterring me from ER nursing. Which is fine because I discovered NICU nursing and will never change. :-)

No offense to ER nurses, you guys deal with a lot of non acute problems amongst your traumas. Just an observation though... the public probably doesn't know what you deal with.

Guys please tell me I just had 2 bad experiences and that you're not all mean!


I agree that most pt's are much more patient about waiting when they are told why they are waiting. I have no problem when pt's ask me how long it will be until they are seen, but most times I can only estimate and can't give them an exact time. Some people want to know exactly how long it will be. Some people call on the phone and want to know how long the wait is. No ER in the world can predict that. It's an anything can happen place.

I'm sorry that your experience turned you off to ER nursing but I don't believe doing a student rotation and voluteering in 1 ER should have made up your mind. Most ER nurses are very patient and used to a lot of abuse from pt's and family. Some physical but mostly verbal. Most professions would never put up with how people talk to them the way that ER nurses have to.

I think most ER nurses try to keep their pt's and families informed. It's not always easy if the place is balls to the walls busy.

As far as the public knowing what we deal with. I think most do, considering they are usually hanging out of their rooms straining their necks to see what is happening. I think people these days aren't patient about anything, especially being sick. No one wants to be sick for any length of time and they want to be cured now and they don't want to wait.

I've been working ER for 19yrs and no I'm not mean and neither are any of my co-workers. We are just very experienced at picking out the pt's that are idiots!! :p


Specializes in NICU.

Haha--kaycee you're right about the pts hanging their necks out to look at everything--I forgot that part! No, it wasn't my bad experiences that deterred me. I truthfully didn't much like it (it wasn't just the way the nurses were), and my passion was to work NICU anyway. It affected me but didn't fully decide things.

It's true about people wanting straight answers on the waiting part. I think I just didn't like the way those nurses acted--like to ask was to intrude or something.


Specializes in NICU.

Plus the fact that it was nurses at 2 different ER's made me wonder too.

I've been in ER the past 6 years of a 25 year career, and kind of ended up there by default. The hospital decided to close the pediatric unit I was working on, and rather than lose my seniority by changing hospitals, I decided to change specialties. To my surprise, I found myself falling in love with nursing all over again!

It certainly has it's challenges, and I agree with the previous postings that it is the unrealistic demands of patients and families that burns us out. We all want to do the best we can for them, but resources are always so limited..............

I think the thing I love the most, is that I have never worked a shift where I haven't learned something. I'm now teaching the Emerg Specialty Certification as well, and the enthusiasm my students bring to the course is very contagious!

Couldn't tear me away from ER with a crowbar :)

teeituptom, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU, L&D, OR.

Ive been a nurse for well over twenty years, and a tech and orderlie before that, and a medic in the service before that. the last 14 years have been in a fairly large er that sees 60 k a year. Im an assistant nurse manager for about 12 of those years. And more than likely I will die at work. Hopefully someone will just put me out of the way somewhere and let me pass on peacefully. I dont think I would want to be resuscitated, just so I could go back to work.

Ive seen a lot of changes over the years. Been there when Ers were staffed with surgeons and family practioners wanting to make an extra buck or too. Now emergency medicine and nursing are a specialty. And look at the technology advances in that time. also the different medicines. And lets talk about the pay. yes it sure has grown. needs to grow more but its better than when I started.Ive seen what it was and whats its become.And I still get to see what its going to.If i live long enough.

One thing that is always hard to impress on these new young nurses,is that they need to remember to look at the patient and not just at the technology associated with their care. You can still tell more by just looking, examining, and talking to the patient. That is hard to get thru to these technology oriented youngsters.well thats about all

thats enough ramblng on


plano. texass

:p I have to smile when i think about when i came to the ER. I applied to the ER 6 mos out of school. The head nurse was going to take a "chance" on me because i was a new grad with no experience. 15 yrs later i am a clinical educator... and my head nurse is glad she took a chance on me.... ;)

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

I've been an RN for ten years and ER nurse for six of those ten years. Love it, can't think of anything else I'd rather do. I went into nursing in my 30's and now am 43 and I still keep up. (Am very healthy and type A personality). I'm one of the night charge nurses.

I have been an ER nurse for 8 out of my 13 years nursing. Work in a busy Level II Trauma Center.

I have always wanted to work in the ER but can remember never really feeling ready in the begining of my carreer. So I sharpened my skills..... mostly tele...and then the day came.

We have a lot of veteran ER nurses where I work. I am glad for the opportunity to learn everthing they know.

I have been an er nurse 4 years out of my 21 year nursing career. I've heard it said that er is where old nurses go to die. True for me! Primarily, stupidity is the job security of health care, and no one knows this as intimately as the er nurse. However, no matter how bad my day is, how sad/stupid/ill (you fill in the adjective), the patients are, Or how impossible the family members are, I know tomarrow I'm not very likely to have to deal with them again. Floor nursing can be a

groundhog day in hell! At best, I only deal with these problems a few hours, at worst a whole shift. The real bonus, I'm never bored.

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