Emergency nurses are a unique group of health care providers. They thrive in fast-paced, demanding situations that offer little time to prepare and require an advanced level of technical skill. Decisions about the best way to treat a trauma patient must often be made in seconds. The reward? Knowing that they have saved a life and made a difference.
“In the emergency room, we don’t turn patients away, so we have to be ready and able to treat anyone who walks in the door,” said Rebecca Ende, BSN, RN, CEN, nurse manager at Bayhealth Kent General’s emergency department. “I got into emergency nursing because I wanted to be able to use all of my technical skills every day.”
On a daily basis, Ende and her staff in Dover see patients ranging in age from a newborn emergently delivered in the department to patients over 100 years old. Patients may be admitted with any disease or trauma from pneumonia to heart attack to gunshot wounds.
The ability to think fast in critical situations is a skill that Dennise Washington, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, clinical nurse specialist for Emergency and Trauma Services at Bayhealth Milford Memorial and Bayhealth Emergency Center, Smyrna, emphasizes.
“Emergency nurses think differently,” she explained. “You may not know what a patient’s prior medical history is, or even what the full picture is when the patient comes through the door. We are always thinking, questioning, trying to figure out what’s causing a particular situation. In a sense, emergency nurses are always on high alert.”
Emergency nurses earn a wide range of advanced certifications in areas such as advanced cardiac life support, neonatal resuscitation, advanced burn life support, and many others.
In addition to patients who need immediate care, emergency nurses also provide support to families and loved ones.
“When a person comes into the ED, it’s an urgent situation for them, and they experience all the emotions that come with that, especially fear and uncertainty. We must be able to care for families in crisis as well as providing medical care,” explained Ende.
The demands of emergency nursing can quickly add up, so nurses must be vigilant in making time for relaxation away from their jobs. At Bayhealth Kent General, nurses are rotated through various assignments as a way to prevent burnout.
Additionally, patient care is balanced by opportunities for continuing education and professional development. The nursing staff attends conferences, symposia, and classes around the region in order to stay current on best practices and learn from colleagues at other health care systems.
And old-fashioned teamwork is often the best strategy for emergency care.
“Don’t get into emergency nursing if you can’t work well on a team,” warned Washington. “I work with an amazing team of people here—all of them can switch gears in a moment without hesitation. When minutes matter, you need to have complete faith in your co-workers.”
In order to honor the emergency nursing team at Bayhealth, special catered meals will be served throughout Emergency Nurses’ Week.
Bayhealth is proud of its emergency nursing staff and the exceptional care they provide to our communities.