Original: October 29, 2011
Revised: March 4, 2012
I love being an ER nurse. I got into Nursing because my family wanted me to. I was one of the lucky ones who actually learned to love being a nurse , and to love the profession even after 20 years of ER nursing. Nursing in the USA had given me great financial rewards and had allowed me to help my family at home.
But, I would not have remained as a nurse if I was miserable in this job. So I find it annoying when I read about too many complaints and regrets about the profession. Whenever I read anybody bashing Nursing, my first question had always been: “Why stay any longer?”
Some nurses vent their frustrations (understandable) of not finding a job after nursing school and of their righteous indignation of being exploited as “paying” volunteers (total contraindications). Nurses in the Philippines deserve recognition for their service amidst the “horrendous” situations in most of our hospitals.
Some nurses may actually find out that they don’t like being a nurse. That’s fine; that’s perfectly acceptable. Not everyone is suited to be a nurse. They may be a perfectly decent and compassionate people, but Nursing may not be for them, period.
But please do us a favor: just leave nursing to those of us who’ve found a niche in whatever field we’re at. Do not enumerate all the reasons of your disillusionment, because by doing so, you are merely mocking the profession that had actually brought happiness and fulfillment to most of us.
Have you finally realized that you’d rather be anyone else but a nurse? Then, just GO!
You have every right to move on. Take a deep breath and find the strength to uproot yourself and find whatever your heart desires. Follow your non-nursing dreams. Make your choice and don’t drag down your fellow nurses with your negative vibes.
Life is challenging enough to be working alongside a person who does not share the passion. It is a disservice to the patient if we stay for the wrong reasons. The patients deserve nurses with service in their hearts; who care for them because they love to and not because they love the money or because they were “forced” to. If I were a patient, I would not want a nurse who thinks only of her overtime money and who could care less if I need any pain medication.
We’ve come into the Nursing with our eyes wide open. Our parents must have nudged us with visions of jobs abroad but I doubt it if they promised us a rose garden. Nursing is hard work and entails many sacrifices. It meant that my life would not be as glamorous like if in show business but I rolled up my sleeves, and got to work. I accepted that the uniform does not pave the way for a life in the limelight, of high fashion and easy money.
For once, I was too brusque to a nurse who whined about all sorts of things. I turned to her, and asked, “Then, why are you still here?”. I realized later that she was burned out, but I just did not want to be sucked into her miserable existence. The negativity was burning a hole in her personality that it was a torture to have her around.
After all these years as an ER nurse, one would expect a sense of disillusionment, or burn-out. But instead of waning, my passion for emergency nursing is burning in its intensity. When you find the nursing field that you’ve been looking for, any other department is inconceivable. And I realized, it is a double blessing when you enjoy the work you do. Nurses make a difference.
Here are top five things that I love as an ER nurse:
1. Variety is the spice of life- No two days are the same. There is no such thing as Ground Hog Day. But there are many instances of deja vu. It’s like a different flavored ice cream every day.
A staff nurse has different assignments and sometimes can be switched to different positions in a single shift. Every single day is an adventure, sometimes overwhelming but never boring.
You never know what will come through the ambulance doors. It is when it is too quiet that we scratch our heads and our hearts flutter because surely, something dramatic will come. We should always prepare for the unexpected. We should always be on our toes; this is not a place for the faint-hearted.
One day, a small dog wandered over to the ER with a splinter on his paw. Another day, a woman protested too much, “I’m not pregnant. I’m just fat.” Moments later, she squealed and out came a baby.
2. Organized Chaos – The ED is always overcrowded and it is gridlock time. Grand Central Parkway at 5pm. Stretchers next to each other. Any floor nurse who visits the ED would be horrified at what they perceive as a chaotic environment. An ER nurse knows that although the activity level is frantic, the staff knows what to do.
And there is organization amidst the din; there is controlled chaos. The adrenaline rush sustains the nurse as she flies from one patient to another; her focused and determined look means that she’s managing her time as best as she can, so please get out of her @%&*@ way.
3. Interesting Patients/ Funny moments– A nurse will never run out of amusing stories to tell.
After a snow blizzard, EMS transported a patient using a snow sled. An inebriated man pushed his compadre to the ED on a grocery shopping cart and told the nurse stoically, “my friend needs help.”
A trauma patient came in after a motorbike accident with a fractured leg; he was totally covered with tattoos. His eyebrows, nostrils and lips were pierced. His genitals were covered with his brand of art. But when he saw the 14 gauge angiocath, he screamed in fear.
A clergyman came after a freak accident with a cucumber lodged where it doesn’t shine. We keep a running tab on what’s the weirdest thing we found in any body cavity. Such is the life of an ER nurse. We live for the simple pleasures.
4. Inspiring people-
I get inspired by colleagues who lead by example: they spend their vacations on charity missions abroad. They spend their own money to go to Haiti or Guatemala. They come back with appreciation of their ability to touch lives.
And then there’s this nurse who worked cheerfully while struggling with a brain tumor. Her patients never knew that the nurse who comforted them needed comforting herself. But she persevered and gave her patients her very best.
Several of my fellow nurses were stuck inside the hospital when the blizzard rendered all roads impassable; they gamely took care of the patients. Some of us trudged through snow banks that were taller than us just so that we can relieve those who have worked before us. They’re our family.
5. Emotional rewards– It might sound too corny to some, but it is rejuvenating to see that you’ve made a difference.
Let me count the ways: you correctly triaged a patient with altered mental status as hypoglycemic; you assisted a battered woman find shelter away from her abusive husband; you monitored your stroke patient’s vital signs and now he thanks you for your help.
You found the time to listen to your elderly patient because you know that what she needed is someone to listen to her and to hold her hands as she waited for her loved ones to visit.
You helped deliver a baby. You were part of the miracle.
We may not always get a Thank You, but when a patient gets better, that’s good enough for me. That should earn us points in heaven.
I’m counting my blessings. I enjoy my work . I am an ER nurse.
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