A guest post: By Matt Zajechowski
Many nurses have no idea what it’s like to be an ER nurse. Anything can happen in the emergency room- and because of that, emergency room nurses have to be prepared for anything.
While working shifts that often last longer than ten hours, emergency room nurses tackle a variety of tasks that keep patients safe while also keeping their family members informed of what’s happening in a caring manner. Their education through nurse practitioner programs has prepared them to multitask while remaining calm, efficient, and compassionate.
With that in mind, it’s hard to define a typical day in the life of an emergency room nurse; however, their days may follow the same rough schedule. With little time to eat, most nurses bring a lunch that they can snack on in between checking on patients; 43% of nurses have grabbed something to eat while responding to patient needs. Before their shifts begin, the on-coming ER nurses are briefed on the ER’s status and assigned patients.
ER nurses constantly monitor their patients throughout their shifts; the most common reasons Americans visit the emergency room are abdominal pain, chest pain, and contusion with intact skin surfaces. An ER nurse performs many important tasks, such as stabilizing patients experiencing trauma, minimizing a patient’s pain, quickly uncovering medical conditions, inserting IVs and taking blood-work, and prepping for procedures. In addition to monitoring their patients, emergency room nurses check with concerned family members and keep them informed of their loved one’s status.
Even if a patient gets discharged, an emergency room nurse knows that they’ll get a new patient right away, and working long hours with few breaks can take a toll on nurses. Aside from the physical exhaustion nurses may experience, 85% of emergency room nurses report experiencing at least one symptom of “compassion fatigue” during the previous week.
Though the days are long and difficult, emergency room nurses feel rewarded by the feeling of helping a patient through a difficult time and performing life-saving procedures. Their passion for helping others brings them back to work every day, and their levelheadedness, focus, and compassion make them perfect for the job.