I’ve completed two weeks of work in the ED, and I LOVE it. It’s so different than the Med Surg floor I used to work on, and there’s so many new things to learn. There’s a lot of stuff around, and sometimes I feel like a mechanic in a busy car repair shop. The industrial bright red rolling tool boxes that hold emergency meds, the monitors above each bed that houses cables and wires, the movable bright surgical lights above the beds, the endless portable devices that carry the names Cheetah, Arctic Sun, and Dynamap, the suture cart, the rolling slit lamp, the OB/GYN cabinet, and the IV/needle station, just to name a few, allow us to be prepared for anything that walks through the doors. Like I said before, there’s so much stuff, and I don’t know what to do with half of it. It’s an exciting new world for me, and I’m thankful for a great preceptor and wonderful tech’s and medic’s who are helping me navigate this new world. The doc’s and PA’s have been wonderful as well, and I know in time, I’ll be in my element once again.
In the unit I used to work on, the patient population was typically no younger then 40, but in the ER, I care for a variety of ages. My youngest patient was 5 months old. I see 11 year old’s, 20 something’s, elderly, and everything in between. I like the variety, and the chance to broaden my scope of practice.
I’ve inserted more IV’s and drawn more blood for labs in 5 hours in the ED, then in my year of being a nurse. I’ve been apart of a STEMI alert and a stoke alert. I’ve cared for patient’s in respiratory distress, a patient with a lacerated finger, a patient in full blown SIRS with a Hgb of 5, an alcohol withdrawaler, several suicide attempts, a man with metal in his eye, a woman with an infected arm with osteomyelitis and much more, and I’ve only attended 6 (slower then usual) shifts. I love it.
My most exciting experience occurred on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving morning was slow. We only ever housed 2-4 patients at a time, and at one point our board was clear. The Thanksgiving Day feast started around 11 am, and the official turkey carving by Dr. C, using a scalpel for the first cut, began around 11:30 am. Every traditional piece of Thanksgiving Day food sat there before us: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, salad, rolls, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, veggies and more. It was delicious, and the only thing missing was my family. But, I do love the people I work with! After full bellies, we waited around for some action, and eventually it came. Around 2:30 or so, a man came through our door with his wife. He complained of chest pain that radiated down his arm. After we hooked him up to the monitor and did an EKG, we discovered he was having a STEMI , and then immediately thereafter we called a STEMI alert. He wasn’t my patient, but I observed the ED team jump into action, each person taking a job, in order to save this man’s heart from further damage. Sunstar was called and they arrived in less then 10 minutes. From the time the STEMI alert was called and Sunstar arrived, not more then 22 minutes had elapsed. I was amazed at the effort and diligent work of everyone in the ED, from the time the alert was called until the time he left our hospital. He had to be transferred to MPM hospital, our sister hospital for a cardiac cath, because our hospital does not house an open heart unit. While I stood on the sidelines observing all the action, at one point the charge nurse glanced over at me, and asked if I wanted to ride along in the ambulance with her to transfer the patient. I was thrilled that she thought of me, and I consented immediately.
We rushed our patient out of our hospital and into the ambulance, then took our spots in the back. Mo continued documenting and asking the patient a few questions, the medic sprayed nitro under the patient’s tongue, and hooked him up to the portable monitor, and we all monitored his status. The sirens rang and we sped through lights, occasionally bouncing in the air as we hit a bump in the road. When we arrived at the hospital ER ambulance bay, we promptly jumped out and got our patient through the doors. A team of ED staff and nurses awaited our arrival and greeted us, then escorted us through several long halls and up one elevator before we finally reached the cardiac cath lab. Two male nurses were ready for us right away, and as soon as they transferred the patient from the stretcher to the table, the surgeon walked in. From the door of ER to the cardiac cath table, we definitely beat the 90 minute goal time. I was amazed by the flow and efficiency of every professional that went to work for this man, from the PCT’s, doc’s, nurses, secretary, medic’s and cath lab staff, everyone had a role, and not a beat was out of place. I love the profession I chose. I love that I get to be apart of team of professional’s that helps save lives everyday. It’s exciting and rewarding. I’m definitely an ER girl.