Shadowing a DoctorMarch 4, 2015
Emergency Room nursing or ER nursing is an advanced nursing specialty area. ER nurses are highly trained to provide life-saving care to patients who are going through a medical crisis either because they are critically injured or severely ill. They assist doctors, surgeons, and other health-care professionals in hospitals, critical care facilities and trauma centres.
Life as an ER nurse is fast-paced, stressful and demanding, both physically as well as mentally. No two hours in a workday are alike as you find yourself treating patients of all ages suffering from all kinds of medical emergencies. It’s a roller coaster of extreme emotions every minute, with high highs as you save a patient’s life one minute and low lows as you realise that there is nothing more you can do for another. This is a nursing specialty that will challenge you and test your skills but at the end of the day, knowing that you have helped save several lives, the satisfaction you will get is unparalleled.
The big question is – can you handle the demands of the job? Take a look at a day in the life of an ER nurse, the training and qualification requirements to become an ER nurse, issues you can expect to face on the job and the job potential of this specialty.
Detailed Job Description
The demographics in an emergency room can be vastly diverse from babies with ear infections to older people suffering from strokes or myocardial infarctions, from road accident victims to people suffering from third degree burns, from a young person in a coma because of a drug overdose to rape victims and severely abused women and children.
As an ER nurse, your most important responsibility is understanding and implementing the principles of triage. This means you must have the ability to quickly and accurately assess all incoming patients for both, physical and mental health conditions and prioritise treatment based on medical need. Deciding who to treat first is not easy, but the ability to stay objective and make that decision quickly lies at the core of ER nursing. You cannot afford to take your time in making these decisions as it can mean the difference between life and death.
Time management is a crucial aspect in the ER. Along with triage, you must also quickly do the following:
+ Identify the patient’s medical problem
+ Record the patient’s medical history
+ Obtain the patient’s vitals including height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature
+ Check for any allergies
+ Check if they are on any current medications that could affect the treatment
Other responsibilities include but are not limited to:
+ Administering medications or IV fluids
+ Cleaning and dressing wounds
+ Taking blood samples
+ Maintaining proper supplies of necessary medical equipment
Part of the job responsibility also includes working with patients and families in crisis and educating them regarding follow-up care.