The man never sleeps.
He says he does; I don’t believe it.
Meet William (Bill) Briggs,RN,MSN,CEN,FAEN, the current President of the Emergency Nurses Association.
Oh, he is also the Trauma Program Manager at Tufts University (Boston).
And he is a per diem staff nurse at Lowell General Hospital.
And he is a member of the Metro Boston Critical Incident Stress Management Team.
And he teaches TNCC and ENPC.
Geeze! I gripe when I have to work an extra four hours……
Bill was kind enough to sit down with me at the end of a busy Saturday and talk a bit about himself and about emergency nursing.
I had a blast.
Some people are born to be emergency nurses. Bill was destined for the emergency department. He wanted to be an EMT so badly that he took classes when he was seventeen so he could jump into the role on his 18th birthday.
He graduated from nursing school ready to hit the code room running!
Unfortunately, back in the late 70’s, you just about had to wait for someone to die before there would be an opening in ER. Bill filled his time with gaining experience in med/surg and critical care, detouring to Saudi Arabia where he wound up managing the ER in a brand new, state-of-the-art hospital!
Bill’s been involved with ENA for so long it wasn’t even ENA when he joined, it was the “Emergency Department Nurses Association”.
Now he’s the president, and the professional organization for emergency nurses boasts a national roster of 36, 500 members.
There is a standing joke in ENA that if you get up to go to the bathroom during a local meeting, you’ll be appointed state president by the time you come back.
Around 1985, after being back in the states and involved again with his local chapter, Bill “came back from the bathroom” (so-to-speak) as the Massachusetts State TNCC Coordinator. (Okay, he actually volunteered to do it, but the thought of getting an assignment while you’re in the bathroom was too funny for me to pass up!)
We often think of our managers and leaders as not being “hands on” or not really being involved in patient care. Bill repeated a theme I heard often this weekend: that as a nurse leader/manager he could affect patient care on a more global scale, having much more influence than he could at the bedside.
But, two times a month, Bill dons the scrubs of a staff nurse and walks the talk in his per diem job at Lowell General, keeping himself connected to the patients and the staff nurse perspective. “It’s just in me,” he notes.
And by the end of a Sunday PM shift in triage, he is more than ready to shift back into the leadership role!
This year, the ENA put a call out for committee members. Eighty positions were available. Over four hundred applications were received. It’s an organization record.
Bill believes that the surge in interest comes because the issues being studied are extremely important to ER nurses everywhere: crowding/boarding (the #1 issue for ER nurses), psychiatric care in the ED and workplace violence, to name just a few.
Emergency nursing requires passion for the work, passion that can become depleted as we get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of patient care or management obligations, putting us in danger of burn-out.
That’s where the ENA comes in.
By attending local meetings (or national conferences!) and networking with colleagues, we are able to reconnect with that passion.
And Bill Briggs is passionate about emergency nursing.
It’s contagious. One meeting, and I felt re-energized. Many, many thanks to Bill for taking the time to sit and talk with me and to Tony Phelps for arranging the interview.
(I still don’t believe he ever sleeps…..)