Specialty Spotlight: ER

Specialty Spotlight: ER


The Gypsy Nurse could not be successful without the support and contributions of it’s readers. Today’s Specialty Spotlight is from reader and Specialty Nurse Tonya O., RN who works as an ER Nurse.

Specialty Nurse Spotlight
Tonya O., RN

Name: Tonya O., RN
Job Title: ER
List your education/certifications:
Where do you work: Various facilities, from Level 1 Trauma Centers to Critical Care Access hospitals

How long have you worked this Specialty? Expert Greater than 5 years

How/Why did you get involved? Was there someone/something that inspired you to choose this specialty?
I chose the ER because it is never the same thing twice. Even though I have been in this area for 7 years, I still see and learn things I’ve never been exposed to before. I love being able to comfort and care for a patient at what is often a very scary time for them, and to support the families of the patients I care for. I am an ER nurse, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What do you do in a typical day?
Critical Thinking! It is key to being in the ER because even the same diagnosis doesn’t present the same way in every patient. Being able to think outside the box is a big part of my job some days. When a patient presents to the ER, they are triaged, which is sort of a trouble shooting process. What is the patient here for? How many other departmental resources do we need to treat this patient? Are they critical and need immediate intervention, or are they stable and able to wait without harm? Then each patient is asked a series of complaint based questions to get a deeper understanding of what they are seeking emergency care for. After a conversation with the provider, orders are placed and carried out, whether it be radiology, lab, medications, etc. Depending on results, it leads to evaluation and disposition of the patient.

What frustrates you about your job?
People who abuse the ER, fail to have a primary care provider and use the ER for common PCP issues, and drug seekers

What about your job makes you proud to be a nurse? Is there a specific situation that stands out to you as a gratifying moment?
It can be as simple as getting a hug from a patient that I took care of, or a patient thanking me for taking care of them. The most gratifying moment I had came from a patient that I took care of over the course of 6 months that had cancer, and I was thanked by name for my great nursing care in his obituary. I cried 🙂

Do you feel you receive adequate support for your responsibilities?
Yes, I do feel supported in my responsibilities. Even as a traveler, the ER is a great place to see team work at its best. We all pitch in and help each other out, to ensure the best outcomes for the patients that we care for. You never hear “Thats not my patient” in the ER. It is common to be familiar with ever patient in the ED

“Often you are who the patient looks up to at a very scary time in their lives. Be sincere, really show them you care. Do not judge, you don’t know what they have been through”

What (if anything) do you get called about on your off-hours?
Lots of phone calls from friends and families mostly

What is something a nurse who does not work in your particular field might find surprising about your job?
The autonomy we have from building a trusting relationship with the providers.

Does your position involve teamwork, or is it more of an individual job? Teamwork!

Did you position require any extra training besides on-the-job training that you were required to complete?
Just the certifications needed.

One of the biggest complaints given by hospital unit-based nurses is that they rarely have time to eat or go to the bathroom. Do you find that to be the case with your job as well?
The census in the ER can vary greatly, sometimes it happens, but we cover each other well, and we are not tied up with a patient as much as on the floor, we have times that we are not needed at the bedside, and can eat quick then.

What is your definition of “poop hitting the fan?”
Multiple traumas and an already full ED!

Are there travel opportunities in your specialty?
Yes, there are very good travel opportunities in ER nursing

Is there any specific advice you would give a nurse pursuing your specialty?
You have to have thick skin, and be able to ignore the drunks, etc that will call you names, the repeat patients that are drug seekers, and the ability to go with your gut instinct and stick up to the physicians if needed for the best interest of your patient. Also you need to have good time management, the ability to multi task, and think on your toes.

TheGypsyNurse is always interested in learning about new Specialties. If you work a Specialty that hasn’t been covered, please contribute by filling out the submission form HERE.

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