In honor of Emergency Nurses week which lands October 6th-12th, here are 10 reasons why I love being an ER nurse!
1. Shifts go by FAST
(For the most part). When we are super busy it feels like time flies! I work 12 hour shifts and I love it – I either work 7 am to 7 pm or 7pm to 7am! I love both shifts equally and I flip flop shifts a lot – often in the same week! People call me crazy but we do self scheduling in our emergency department and I sign up for the rotating shifts! I have to work 3 – 12 hour shifts a week – I wouldn’t want it any other way!
2. Emergency nursing is all about TEAMWORK!
Each day I work, my team consists of a doctor, another nurse, and an assortment of EMTs and paramedics. We coordinate with ancillary departments such as lab, radiology, social services, and EMS. Every team member plays a vital role in the care of our patient and it is well known that we can’t do our job without the other team member(s). We all hold a mutual respect for each other’s role.
My coworkers/team members are amazing. They make my job so much fun. They also understand what it is like to work in an emergency setting: the frequent flyers, the rude patients, the safety concerns, the disrespect, the heartbreak, the trauma, the things you can’t unsee, THEY GET IT. I can lean on them for support in a way I can’t lean on my husband or my friends.
We all know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. We are all invested in the care of the patient and want the best outcome. Being a member of the emergency healthcare team is such a privilege and I do not take it for granted.
3. You never know what is coming through the door!
When I ask nurses why they wouldn’t want to work in the emergency department, this is the #1 answer: I don’t know what will come through the door next.
THAT’S WHAT I LOVE! I LOVE knowing that things can change any second. I love the challenge of managing several critical patients showing up at the same time. I love the rush. I love the unknown. More than that, as I’ve become a stronger nurse, I love knowing that I can HANDLE anything that comes through the door.
This may sound arrogant but…..
- You have to be confident in your skills – what if I said “I don’t think I can handle anything that comes in.” That isn’t reassuring.
- I am NEVER alone – refer back to reason I love ER nursing #2 – I have an amazing team.
4. You get to work with every population!
I work in a general critical access hospital – this means that it is a small hospital. We have 25 beds between med-surg floor and OB. The ER has 10 beds. We average seeing about 25 patients a day. I work with every type of patient of every age of every background. We have quite the diversity of patients – more than you’d expect in the rural midwest. Each population brings its’ own unique problems and considerations so my day NEVER looks the same!
5. I LOVE starting IVs.
Seriously though, I LOVE starting IVs. If I ever work in a bigger hospital, I think I would apply to be on the IV team! I start an average of 0-10 IV’s a day. The ER nurses and paramedics serve as a resource to the rest of the hospital for difficult IV starts. There is nothing more rewarding than being able gain IV access on the first stick of a difficult patient – all the way from newborn babies to the elderly.
6. You get to work with EVERY body system and learn how one affects the other!
From the relationship between magnesium and potassium, to the interactions of ace inhibitors and why it can have a cough as a side effect, I’m such a NERD when it comes to how medications effect the body and how each body system effects the other. If we aren’t sure how compazine works, why does it cure a migraine? Does this medication act as an anticoagulant or a anti platelet? Why is toradol more effective than narcotics when treating kidney stones? Why is a beta blocker given for a STEMI instead of a calcium channel blocker? Just when you think you have a handle on it, a new medication or disease process comes along!
7. You get to know frequent flyers!
Frequent flyers is sometimes used as a derogatory term in emergency departments. For me – I love my “repeat customers.” I get to know them, their health history, their chronic problems, their families and I feel like I can take the best care of them! I “sign up” to take them right away – they are relieved when they see me and I take pride in knowing that I am the best nurse to care for them!
8. You get to see some cool stuff.
This one is obvious. Every time I tell someone I’m an ER nurse their first response is usually “I bet you see some cool stuff.” Yes, I do. Sometimes I’m laughing all the way home, sometimes crying. Some days I spend all day learning and some days the cases are pretty predictable. I have to be really careful how I word this answer. Obviously I don’t WANT people to get hurt and have really cool injuries but it happens and sometimes I come across a really interesting case – traumas, medical mysteries, deep deep lacerations, incision and drainage of cysts, gun shot wounds, etc.
9. I get to develop my multitasking skills everyday!
I LOVE this part. My mind automatically multitasks and develops to do lists and can go a mile a minute – I didn’t start off like this but my management and multitasking skills get stronger every time we have a crazy busy day with truly critical patients and only 10 beds and an ambulance coming in and going out and an IV start in CT and a GI bleed who needs blood hung and a helicopter landing and a suicidal patient requiring one on one care and that little tot just threw up in the lobby and med surg is ready for report and I haven’t peed in 8 hours and forget a lunch break – I LOVE days like that.
10. I’m a resource to other departments.
I love starting pediatric IVs. I did not used to. I used to beg the paramedics to step in for me or send someone else with more experience down to start baby or kiddie IVs until one day a good friend of mine said “you won’t learn if you don’t try.” I spent the next year taking EVERY possible IV start and pediatric IV start available. I studied it, I watched other experienced medics, I would assist whenever I could, and now I’m a resource. I’m a relief to others who are scared like I used to be. Am I perfect? NO. I don’t get nearly enough exposure but by taking every opportunity to learn I have built my confidence and I’m now a resource to my coworkers and other departments. This is an example of how I reach to be the best nurse I can be for my patients. I also try to offer as much experience as I can to other departments. If we have a critical patient, I’ll ask med – surg to send down a “newbie nurse” and I’ll walk through treating the patient step by step so they are more prepared and understand how to handle critical situations such as hanging drips, giving RSI medications, or working through a code. Be the mentor you wish you had.
That’s all folks! Thank an ER nurse this week! I’ve also seen that it is PEDIATRIC NURSES WEEK! ❤️❤️ so show them all the love you can too!
Thanks for the insight…..our daughter is a trauma floor nurse and this gives me a glimpse of her work life. LOVE your blog 🙂
Thank you for what you do. I’m that hard stick and I love nurses like you that are confident and want to help me thru it. It makes it easier for me!!!
Thanks for sharing! And thanks for all you do in the medical field!
I just need to add this: Although I am not a nurse, I did have the experience of being a patient for 16 days in a hospital. What I learned from that experience is this: Nursing is not a job, it is a CALLING. Let me repeat that: Nursing is not a job, IT IS A CALLING. It was quickly evident during my stay, the difference between those who treated the profession as a job and those who had the calling. I had both and let me say the nurses who had the calling, were ANGELS!! Kalissa, not knowing you, but learning about you through this blog, I am certain you fall in the ANGELS category. Although I was never able to thank my nurses properly, please accept my thanks and gratitude for what you and your fellow co workers do for us all who need your help!! THANK YOU!!
Very Cool, Kalissa! Thank you for that insight!
Thanks for sharing. I was an OB nurse, mostly labor and delivery but also nursery and post partum. Like you I lived the fact that you never knew what was coming through the door. That was where I felt at home that I could handle what ever it was. And also a team of obstetricians pedestrians, other RNs, LPNs, anesthesia respiratory and others. We all worked well together and respected each other’s abilities. I’m retired now, but I still miss it. It was a big part of who I am.
You have a gift for writing!! I am a nurse of 42 years now — never an ER nurse. I liked them all bandaged up when they got to the ICU. You should submit this for publication in one of the nursing journals. I am still working, and love coming across young nurses who are smart, talented, and most of all caring!! God bless the work you do in your community and for your patients!
Oh my! What a compliment coming from such an experienced nurse! :O
I like to do the bandaging and the messy stuff 🙂
Some are born an ICU nurse – some an ER nurse! 🙂
You sound like an awesome nurse! If only we had some here. Our hospital which is a level one trauma center does not have anyone who can start an IV without trying 3 or more times. I’ve accompanied my mom multiple times in recent months and NO ONE at this hospital has been able to start one the first time! It’s cringe inducing.
UGH! Unfortunately with the nursing shortage more and more new grads are hired straight into the ER 🙁
Thanks for all you do!