Lifeline: A Day in the Life of an ER nurse

emergency roomTick tock tick tock. I stare at my reflection at the mirror as I get ready to face the challenge that await me. Tick tock. I pick my best superhero costume, my scrub suit and put on an unfailing smile that says “I’m ready to face this day”. Tick tock, says the clock. I brace myself as another day of life-saving is about to begin.

There is no such thing as a typical day for an Emergency Nurse. Every day is like both a surprise and challenge to everyone in the emergency room. It may be busy, it may be lax. Your patients may be aggressive, or cooperative. They may be stable or in a critical condition. You never know what you may face for the day.

I receive endorsement from the outgoing nurse as my duty in the Emergency Room officially starts. Yeah, this is going to be a long day. I better put my brave face on. I might as well check my supplies first, to be prepared in case someone walks in those doors, battling against life and death.

A Crash Cart also known as Emergency Cart completely stocked with supplies needed is very important in clinical settings such as the emergency cart. It is stocked with medicines and equipment needed in cases such as cardiac arrest. It is important for nurses to check the completeness and functionality of their Ecart from time to time, at least once in an 8-hour duty. By doing so, you can save time and effort when dealing with emergency situations. Remember, when it comes to dealing with lives, every second counts. You can never be certain when a patient is a second away from his death.

Just when I was sure that my equipment and supplies are complete and up to date, a female patient is rushed through the doors via stretcher. I gather patient information and check her vital signs, catering her needs as another ER nurse finds the resident physician. After proper assessment and assisting the ROD, I carry out the orders. After inserting an IV line, carrying out a set of lab tests, making sure that the condition of the patient is stable and with the approval of the ROD, I transfer the patient to the ward and endorse to the nurse-on-duty comprehensively.

Being an ER nurse is not an easy task. It’s not always as simple as taking vital signs and inserting IVs and catheters, there are times when you face complicated and critical situations. You must be quick and must work well under pressure. You must know how to make snap decisions with critical thinking. Working in the ER brings about a lot of pressures, thus, one must be tough and must know how to deal with them. There are a series of certifications required by different countries in order for one to become an ER nurse, like for example Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Saving (PALS).

“Life and death is one part of every person’s life which is greatly emphasized in our profession,” says Lee*. “I have seen a lot of people take their last breath, I can’t even count how many life-threatening situations I have come face-to-face with, not even the countless heartbroken families I have encountered after hearing sad news about their loved ones. However, no matter how much pain and sorrow working in the ER brings, you also get the chance to experience seeing life, relief and joy walk out the doors,” she adds.

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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