Thursday, October 04, 2007

Qualities Required for an ER Nurse

I'm big into lists all of a sudden. I've been making them all week. I go through spurts of obsessive habits and this week I'm looking to complete a notebook full of lists. Sometimes I wonder if I need to be committed.

I thought I'd enlighten my glorious readers (all 6 of you) on the qualities I think an ER nurse should have. If you want to be successful in the ER, please pay attention.......

1. You must be able to adapt quickly to change. The first 60 minutes of your shift may entail finding out about a policy update, initiating a lidocaine drip on a patient, taking a bead out of a 4 year old's nose, finding out the previous policy update was updated again, assisting in a casting, placing a catheter in a 80 year lady with dementia and unique female anatomy, being floated to ICU, being released from ICU, doing pediatric triage, and then going on a run with EMS because they are short staffed.

2. You must be able to hold your urine for 12 hours straight. See number 1 for reference.

3. You must not be a frequent crier. Tears are OK once in a while, but not on a daily basis. Seriously people......if you are that emotional, find a less stressful job.

4. A sense of humor is a must - a vital requirement. You cannot survive without it. Because sometimes it's just dang funny when a man comes in with a foreign object in his "orifice", or Dr Q slips on the freshly mopped floor and lands with his coffee spilled over his scrubs and the hemoccult card he was carrying flat open on his face.

5. You must be a critical thinker. You must understand WHY you are doing what you're doing. Being genuinely surprised that your patient is hard to arouse after 30 minutes on a Versed drip makes the other nurses look at you funny and wonder where the hell you went to school ( Also, not doing a urine dip on a patient that has just been kicked in the gut by a 1 ton horse because "the doctor didn't order it" is just not acceptable.

6. You must be willing to train other nurses. How will we devlop competent nurses to cover for us on our vacation days if we don't make the effort to train them? Really - it's in your best interest to show SusieQ how to assist in a chest tube insertion, because you may want to go to Florida next month and there is noone to cover your shift on Trauma Call except a new inexperienced RN who was never trained. Next thing you know, your boss says "No!"

7. You must not mind body fluids. Blood, vomit, poop, pee - they're all part of a normal day in the ER. Sometimes you even get to have them splashed all over your clothes and in your face.

8. You must be excellent at organization and time management (refer to number 1 once again).

9. You must be able to recognize the fact that a 45 y/o obese male with a history of smoking who is experiencing chest pain needs to be seen before an 80 y/o female with complaints of "it burns when I pee." Triage is your friend - know it, own it.

10. You must be able to prioritize. It is more important for you to obtain an EKG on your 45 y/o male than it is to obtain a urine sample on your 80 y/o female. Just because the doctor ordered the UA first doesn't mean that is the order in which you perform your interventions.

11. You must be a cold, hard bitch. Oh wait - no....that's just me.

12. You must bitch endlessly about how unreal medical shows are, but secretly watch them at home cuddled up in a blankie with a cup of hot chocolate while yelling "You don't shock asystole asshole!"

13. You must be willing to keep up on your education and be aware of current practice. Stating "Well, Abby did it last night on ER" doesn't go over very well with the Chief of Nursing. See number 12. Another tip - People magazine does not contain any CEU's.

14. You must not screw around with your coworkers. Paramedics, police, firefighters - go for it. But another ER nurse or doc? Not a good decision. First, you're mushy mushy kissy kissy in the hallways, making people want to throw up. Then, when things go south (they always do), it becomes difficult to take care of that patient seeking treatment for syphillis without popping a comment off to Big Bob RN about how you're surprised he's not laying on the stretcher - as much as he fooled around on you.

15. You must be able to handle people yelling, screaming, cussing, and spitting at you without taking it personally. Review number 3.

and last, but certainly not least............

16. You must be able to find rewards in the little things - the smile of a child after they've been sewn up and get to choose a sticker, the reassuring beep of the cardiac monitor after you've resuscitated someone, the way the closet at the end of the hall is soundproof so no one will hear you scream when you are losing your mind.


Melissa said...

I'm not sure which one IO liked better, #11 or #12. Both were funny. :)

ellibacarella said...

That was WONDERFUL... I have my interview friday for a New Grad ER RN internship.... I so hope I get this job. Some people are just born to live that kind of chaos.... I think #11 is the best... and although with my kids I'm Mommy... at work I agree... cold hard bitch is really important!

Sandy said...

so so so true!

Anonymous said...

Great blog! I am an ER nurse in NH, and all you posted was sooo true. The work can be difficult at times, but it is never boring or routine!

Joy K. said...

I've been a nurse for 1 year, went into nursing wanting to be an ER nurse & I finally have my 1st ER position interview tomorrow- thank you for making me laugh while I'm sitting here prepping for the interview!

sevenstars77 said...

I have been a critical care RN for 15 years, and never read something so succinct, and downright hilarious. Thank you.

Mr. Sevenstars

Julie said...

@77 - thanks. I haven't read this one in a while so it was fun looking back over it when I saw you commented on it.

SteveRN said...

"You don't shock asystole asshole!" HAHAHAHA! That drives me crazy!