Grit: Emergency Nurses Applauded for Dedication, Resilience
In a field where nearly every job brings with it life and death implications, the specialty of emergency nursing stands out as being particularly high-stress and demanding.
“Emergency nurses play a vital role every day in caring for patients in emergency, life-threatening situations,” says Jessica Enos, MHA, BSN, RN, Manager of Emergency Services at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. “They are assessing and managing patients experiencing stroke, heart attack, trauma… They are specially trained to recognize life-threatening problems and intervene immediately.”
Emergency nurses face a unique challenge because nearly every emergency patient arrives without a diagnosis and sometimes without even a clear indication of the problem. Emergency nurses work against time and often deteriorating patient conditions to quickly examine and assess their patients, providing their findings to the rest of the medical team as they work toward a diagnosis and treatment plan – all with the clock ticking.
Enos says that working against the unknown is an obstacle her team faces every shift.
“The biggest challenge for nurses working in the aemergency department is not knowing what type of patient or situation will arrive in the department from minute to minute,” she explains. “Everyday emergency nurses help people facing challenging situations that they didn’t plan on encountering – things like broken bones, eye injuries, dog bites and other types of accidents.”
This week (Oct. 10-16) is Emergency Nurses Week. Nationwide, there are an estimated 90,000 emergency nurses.
Demand for all types of registered nurses is expected to grow 12 percent between 2018 and 2028 – faster than the average for U.S. occupations. As the overall need for nurses has continued to grow in recent years, so too has the need for emergency nurses.
Inside SNMH’s Emergency Department, Enos’ team includes 45 nurses – all specially equipped to care for emergency patients. Typical duties include triaging patients to assess the severity of their condition; providing initial physical assessment; monitoring response to treatment; communicating findings to the other members of the care team; and providing education and support to the patient and family.
Even on the slowest days, emergency nurses are typically caring for several patients in one shift, Enos says. “The biggest difference between emergency nurses and nurses working on an inpatient unit elsewhere in the hospital is the number of patients that emergency nurses provide care for in a single shift.”
Despite the hectic and intense nature of the job, Enos says working in an emergency department can also be very gratifying.
“The biggest reward for all of us working in emergency care is knowing that you were part of saving someone’s life,” she says. “We also see firsthand the impact you can make. Helping your community in a meaningful way is very rewarding.”
The theme for Emergency Nurses Week 2021 is “Grit.”
The Emergency Nurses Association shared this message with their membership regarding the theme: “As an emergency nurse, you are willing to do what it takes to provide your patients the best care possible no matter the circumstances. When life knocks you down, you always get back up. No matter what comes through your emergency department’s doors, you face it head-on. You’re ready to get your hands, and scrubs, dirty to do what’s right. You are the definition of grit.”
Enos echoes those sentiments and applauds the work of her team over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The past 18 months have been challenging for emergency nurses, but they have persisted despite the challenges,” she says. “They have remained present to care for patients and their families to the best of their ability. They face challenging situations and bounce back, demonstrating the embodiment of the word grit.”
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