June 9, 2006, 3:09 pm

Better Working Thru Tech-nology!


I really have to get a life.

This is what I have become.

An Adorable Rodent in the TTLB Ecosystem.

For months I was a Maurading Marsupial. I loved my little pouch. In fact, sometimes they would make a mistake and for a brief moment I’d be a Large Mammal.

Life was good.

Now I’m eatin’ nuts and livin’ in the trees.

This depresses me.

I really have to get a life.


Many emergency departments have ER technicians that work along with the nurses in providing patient care. My ER is one such department. We are fortunate enough to have an ER technician from 1800-0630, and believe me, we run their posteriors off.

So what makes a good ER tech? What are the qualities that make having an ER tech nearly as good (or even better) as having another nurse on duty?

  • The Patience of a Saint
    • A tech is at the beck and call of not only every nurse on the unit, but also the unit secretary and the doctor.
    • This includes those staff members who believe the tech is their personal assistant, if you get my drift.
  • The Ability to Prioritize
    • They are expected to: stock, transport patients, run specimens to the lab
    • irrigate wounds, clean abrasions, do CPR until their muscles ache, move patients (both large and small)
    • respond to psych emergencies (ie “take-down” situations)
    • dip urines, occasionally draw bloods, do EKGs, run to Central Supply
    • take bodies to the morgue
    • make beds/straighten rooms after discharge
    • and do all this when asked by the staff, sometimes 4-5 things at a time
  • The Ability to BE There
    • I don’t mean calling in sick, we’re all expected to be at work
    • I mean the ability to be active, in the department when needed, not do a chore and run to the break room.
  • The Ability to Splint
    • Orthopedic experience is a distinct advantage
    • Especially to MY patients because although I can splint you in the proper position, it won’t be pretty.
    • Let’s put it this way: do you want your splint designed by Fred Flintstone or Michaelangelo? I work with a tech who can splint so well Michaelangelo would be wanting to take lessons from him!
  • Muscles
    • Male or female – it doesn’t matter to me
    • The more they can lift/pull/drag the better because that means the more we can lift/pull/drag together!
  • Dedication to the Job
    • One problem with keeping a good tech is that they see the job as a “way-station”
      • Before getting into paramedic school or becoming a fire fighter
      • which means losing them, sometimes not long after they have started.
    • It’s rare to find someone who wants to actually be an ER tech as their actual, regular and dedicated job.
      • If you have one, you better treat ’em like gold or someplace else will snatch ’em.
      • They are hard to find.

And if you doubt the worth of having an ER tech, just try working one shift without one.

I have.

It was hell.

So here’s props to all the ER techs of the world. You may think you are underpaid.

You are.

But never, never think you are not appreciated.

You are.


  • chele

    June 9, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Amen to that! I would rather work with a good ER tech than with some of the nurses I work with. Thanks for giving props where they’re due…they deserve a BIG Thank YOU!!!!

  • NPs Save Lives

    June 9, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    That goes for all the wonderful CNAs who work their asses off on Med/Surg… Not having a great tech can really kill a nurse. They don’t receive the kudos that they deserve!

  • Hannah

    June 9, 2006 at 5:59 pm

    It’s from switching over to your own site, I bet…but it will grow back and bigger and better.

    I have worked with some wonderful CNAs!

    Hh 😉

  • Shannon

    June 10, 2006 at 5:03 am

    You always write the best stuff. Are they hiring in California? I’d come be your ED Tech.

    In our ED, the Medical Assistant did all those things you listed as well. They also had orderlies who helped out. They have very strong roles in a very stressfull environment. It’s nice to see a nurse who notices that. They never seem to at our ED. Then again, quite a few nurses who work in there can’t seem to see anyone lower in rank because their noses are turned too high in the air. A lot of them have the mentality of “You don’t SAVE lives… so you can’t possibly be on the same level as I am.”

    It’s a shame. But, nice to see this post.

  • Rita Schwab

    June 10, 2006 at 5:44 am

    But what a cute little rodent you are!

    I, being but a slimy mollusc in today’s TTLB Ecosystem, thought I might just go find a picture of a cute little mollusc for my site.

    I went to Google, entered ‘slimy mollusc,’ expecting to find serious, scientific sites dealing with conchology, bivalves, and gastropods.

    However, what I discovered instead was an entire page of links about the TTLB Ecosystem, and found that for the most part, slimy mollusc’s are just not a happy lot.

    You see, they all dream of being adorable rodents…

    P.S. (I just checked and you’re ranked number 5 today in the BlogTopSites health listing – very impressive!)

  • drcharles

    June 10, 2006 at 11:11 am

    i echo all you’ve said about what makes a good medical tech, and they really do make or break a family practice as well.
    i can’t find your email address anywhere, but i wanted to let you know i’ve moved my site too. I’ll get a link up to you again, please le me know if i forget. my new one is imbedded in this comment.
    the ttlb stuff is crazy, i gave up a while ago and have enjoyed my freedom since!

  • DisappearingJohn

    June 11, 2006 at 8:01 am

    Oh, I second (or third, or fourth) everything you say. We are blessed with some of the best, hardest working techs I have ever met, and am grateful to them almost every shift.

    I laughed about your splinting comment, because my splinting skills are scary, at best. My hiney has been saved on many occassions, knee deep in kerlix, by a tech with a plan….

  • Wendy, S.N.

    June 11, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    I am printing this out for my best friend. She is a tech in the ER, and I think she would love to see that nurses really do appreciate her efforts even if they never say so where she is.

    W. 🙂

  • TC

    June 11, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Can we mention that these folks make NOTHING! Like, in my area, maybe they make $10/hour. and a lot of them raise families on this. Unlicensed personnel get a lot of flack from the nursing establishment who complain that hospitals use them instead of nurses. But I’ve worked with wonderful, wonderful techs who have made my job so much easier and taught me a lot.

  • Tif

    June 12, 2006 at 9:20 am

    It is very nice to see that we are appreciated. We are all the spokes to one great big wheel and without any one of us (nurses, techs, docs, secretaries, etc.) we would not run. Thank you for the props!!!!!

  • Cassie

    June 12, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    Amen Kim! We don’t give enough praise to the great job the techs do but we need to. Thanks for saying it out loud!


  • Sid Schwab

    June 12, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    It began in surgical training, and continued through the subsequent 25 years or so of practice: the realization that good medicine is hugely a team effort. A good ICU nurse, ED nurse, recovery room nurse, floor nurse is so essential to the care of a patient as to make me wonder some days how useful I really am. Which is not to say that sometimes I was less than appreciative at 2 am. But, in retrospect, that’s the time above all at which my trust was most imperative. Nice post. It goes well beyond nurses; but in my book, it sure starts there.

  • dribear

    June 13, 2006 at 3:52 am

    I was depressed for a whole day when I fell from a flappy bird to a slithering reptiles.

  • Erica

    June 13, 2006 at 7:16 am

    I agree, ED Techs are horribly underpaid and overworked people. And I’m proud to say I work with some of the best in the biz, in my opinion. Our department has anywhere from 5-8 techs on at a time, and we run their butts off too. Most of ’em don’t complain, and I *could not* do my job without them.

  • kt

    June 14, 2006 at 5:50 am

    well i feel you on that one! we need each other to get the job done well. i love the “beck and call” – a friend and i decided to call each other “becky” to shorten the name of the duties that quote calls for.

  • Shane

    June 15, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    Hey, I made a few calls and got you moved back up to Marauding Marsupial…either that, or it just fixed itself 🙂

  • Patti

    June 17, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve worked in ERs for over 30 years as a unit secretary and I have to say- ED techs certainly deserve the recognition and kudos you’ve given them! They are sooo busy (we usually call them Cinderella because we are always calling on them to do something else and something else- just not enough hands to do all the work) all the time and oddly enough, most of them don’t complain much. Is there some sort of a tech gene out there? Can it be detected by DNA?

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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