I can just imagine the dialog for this photo:
“Why Bob, that Doctor Jones is just wonderful! He wrote this prescription for fifteen hundred tablets of Valium!”
Bob says, “Why that’s wonderful, dear!”
Bob thinks, “Oh, thank god! Now maybe she’ll get off my back and I can read my newspaper in peace!”
Better living through chemistry!
The life of an emergency department nurse is often chaotic and stressful. If “a picture is worth a thousand words”, let me take a moment to actually show you what a typical shift in a community ER might look like.
Disclaimer: those depicted in the following photographs shall remain nameless to comply with current HIPAA regulations regarding patient confidentiality.
Any visit to the emergency department begins with triage.
Here, we have a patient with a chief complaint of pain, nausea and feeling as though he is “full of air”.
The patient’s wife reports increasing incidents of the patient hiding behind chairs and flinging feces in her direction, thereby causing increased stress in the home.
It is important to note that although the patient is smiling, he reports pain to be a 10/10. Nurses must be careful to take the patient’s word and not make value judgments based on outward signs of pain or a lack thereof.
On arrival to the room, the patient immediately asked for something to eat. This is not an unusual situation, as 98.6% of all nauseated patients become hungry on arrival.
A banana was given.
Communication is the heart of collaboration.
Here, our intrepid emergency department nurse pleasantly explains to a primary care physician the purpose of the medication reconciliation form.
Dr. Primary is astounded at the amount of work the nurses do to make his job of ordering easier. He vows to make sure he completes the form in the future. Another ER success story!
I’m sure holding Dr. Primary by the back of the neck had nothing to do with it…
CPR certification is one of the more important requirements of emergency department nursing.
Here, we see one of the ER staff working diligently, practicing chest compressions on a colleague.
Uh oh! It seems that someone has forgotten the “R” of CPR and now their colleague is exhibiting decerebrate posturing.
No problem! It takes more than profound anoxia to keep an ER nurse down!
Our posturing partner finished the shift and managed to make it home before calling in brain-damaged.
The nurse was, however, counseled for not breathing on the job.
Technology plays an important part in emergency department medical records.
Computers have made it easier to
read blogs on the job access patient’s medical records, thereby improving continuity of care.
Here we have Dr. PuterGuy and our hard-working ER nurse perusing the previous history of one of the patients in the department.
It seems this patient has a family history of feces flinging.
Ah, cameraderie! How would ER nurses survive without it?
It’s your coworkers who have your back, help you when you are swamped, fill-in for you when you are sick, take the feces-slinging patient when you’ve had enough and basically make coming to work a joy.
They also hold you up when you are sleeping at 0500, as is obviously happening with our hard-working ER nurse.
This concludes our pictorial look at a day in the life of an ER nurse.
In conclusion, when things get hairy, the department is bursting at the seams and you don’t think you can take another step or read another order…
…don’t forget to hug your administrative assistant/unit clerk.
They’re the ones who actually run the department, anyway.
No emergency nurses were harmed in the making of this pictorial.
All photos taken with an iPhone, which was not mine. Because I don’t have one. Yet.
This is dedicated to all the ER nurses who think the night shift doesn’t do anything. I hope this dispels any of those unfounded notions!