Happy Emergency Room Nurses Week!

During Emergency Nurses Week, it’s important to recognize that Emergency Nursing is different from other areas of the hospital. It is believed that we are the “front door” that can never be shut, “the bottom of the hill” where everything rolls down and the red-headed step child who never gets what the others have. But is all this really a bad thing?

I decided to pursue nursing 25 years ago because my grandmother wanted me to become a nurse and my mom wouldn’t let me be a teacher. I always did what these two incredible women told me to do. I was forced to take an Emergency Room elective at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, LA during my last semester of nursing school (it was still called an Emergency “Room” back then, not an Emergency Department). That first day was something out of a movie for me. I saw things that I did not know existed and decided that day what kind of nurse I wanted to be!

For 25 years I never wanted to do anything else and Emergency Medicine continues to intrigue me to this day. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t say “now that’s something you don’t see every day”. Being a true ED Nurse comes with much more than the adrenaline rush. ED Nurses do not know one thing very well—they know the signs and symptoms of just about every medical problem that exists (and often some that do not). ED Nurses are multi-taskers, quick thinkers, care coordinators, physician interpreters, and patient advocates. They are calm under pressure and have the ability to prioritize and stabilize in an environment where organized chaos is the norm.

It is true — the ED is the front door to the hospital, and can never be closed. Not knowing what is about to come through that door is what makes the ED Nurse resourceful and able to handle the unexpected. No matter how many people come in for treatment you always make it happen by the end of the shift.

Don’t think of the bottom of the hill as the bad place to be. Instead, think of it as the beginning—it all starts with you. You are the first person to recognize and treat the problem. You are the first person that makes a difference in the patient’s life.

As for being the red-headed step child, for me this means that you are unique. In order to be an ED Nurse, you must think differently, focus your assessment and thrive in a world of protocols, flowcharts and metrics. Appreciate and celebrate your uniqueness, especially this week.

The ED is a fast-paced, dynamic place where teamwork is at its highest level and change is inevitable. The spectrum of emotions that nurses experience in a day is often unsurpassed. It takes a strong, compassionate person to take on the world’s emergencies—who knew you could handle that? You did! This is why you are an ED Nurse. Celebrate, be proud and continue to make a difference in the lives of your patients.


Written by GIFTED Director of Clinical Workforce Solutions – Tania Loumiet, RN

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