The phrase ‘lazy day’ really doesn’t apply when you work as an Emergency Room Nurse. Working as an ER Nurse means that you are a specialist in the rapid assessment and treatment of a patient and their injuries, which is crucial to their survival. Having the ability to juggle a huge number of responsibilities, all while remaining calm and empathetic, takes a special type of person. The work schedule of most ER Nurses, doesn’t help either, with 50% of nurses reporting that shifts exceed 10 hours – long shifts and few breaks meant that there is never a dull day at the office.
No two days are ever alike while working in the ER, but many Nurses start their days in a similar way in order to keep some structure throughout their day. The typical day for an ER nurse begins with packing a lunch because there is little chance of being able to eat otherwise. Many also take time to mentally prepare themselves for what’s ahead. The final step before beginning their day is to be briefed about the status of the ER and their assigned patients, of which there are always many.
The duties of a nurse are as widely varied as they are plentiful. Duties range from inserting IVs into patients and taking bloodwork, to comforting the families of patients. There are more mundane tasks as well though, things like interviewing patients to uncover medical conditions, and educating people on the prevention of injuries.
Throughout their day, a nurse may have one or two of their patients discharged, but that relief is far from log-lasting, as another patient typically immediately fills their spot. This process of constantly admitting new patients sometimes causes about 85% of nurses to experience what is called “compassion fatigue” on a weekly basis, which is a sort of desensitization to what is happening around them.
Patients enter the ER at all times of the day, there no business hours for a hospital. Patients that come in during typical workday hours from about 9 am-5 pm tend to have a shorter time to treatment than those who come in outside of those times. The ages of people being treated by ER nurses is also widely varied from newborn babies to elderly seniors. Infants under one year old, and the elderly older than 85 have the highest rate of ER visits, but the elderly are much more likely to be admitted to the hospital.
Every day in the ER is hectic and unpredictable, but each and every nurse share common characteristics of efficiency, compassion, and focus. Though the work is often exhausting, many nurses live for the ability to help people in need.