Each Job Every Day: Emergency Department Nurses

What’s it like to go into work with no expectations of how your day will unfold? Ask Miranda Charley, Fairview Ridges Hospital Emergency Department (ED) RN; she does it every day.

Miranda’s days start predictably with her receiving reports on patients she will be caring for. Everything after that, however, is pretty unpredictable. “It’s hard to explain what the typical workday is like because the ED changes hour to hour,” says Miranda.

What they do

The ED interfaces with almost every department throughout Fairview. RNs assess and treat patients who come to the ED medically ill or injured. They provide physical, emotional, social and spiritual services 24/7 to help a patient make it through a crisis.

Laurie Gahm’s role is similar to Miranda’s, but the Fairview Northland Medical Center ED nurse, cares for patients in a rural community. ED nurses in rural areas differ from those in metro EDs not so much in the severity of cases but in the care they provide. They have to perform intense and rapid assessments and treatment of critical patients in the ED within 30-60 minutes to transfer them to a larger facility where they can undergo needed invasive procedures or surgeries.

“It is imperative that we do a great job so, once those patients arrive in the metro hospital, they are ready to do everything they can to save lives,” says Laurie, adding she’s a bit of an “emergency addict”. “I love the adrenaline rush of being part of a team that rushes to save a cardiac arrest or a very severe motor vehicle trauma.”

ED nurses around the system are direct caregivers registered by the state of Minnesota. They also earn certifications in areas such as Advanced Life Support, Trauma and Emergency Pediatric.

While ED nurses care for trauma victims and cardiac arrest patients, a greater percentage of their patients come in with myriad minor conditions from earaches to abdominal pain.

“Much of our day is spent taking care of everyday illness and smaller injuries, but we always have to be prepared for the trauma and cardiac arrest patients,” says Laurie.

Why they do it

As a nurse, Miranda says she likes being able to help others and interact with different people.

“I love knowing that I will learn something new every time I care for a patient – and a piece of each patient stays with me for the rest of my life.”

ED nurses face many challenges in shifting gears suddenly and learning new topics in a very short time.

But with challenge comes pride.

“I feel extremely proud when I make a difference in someone’s day, when a patient feels listened to and cared about, when a life has been saved, when I get an IV in a tiny neonate and when our team figures out what is wrong with a complex medical patient,” says Laurie.

“I have worked as a nurse at Fairview for the past 38 years and have truly enjoyed my job, but my most enjoyable role has been to work in the ED,” she says.

Interested in joining Fairview Health Services? Explore carers: http://jobs.fairview.org/ 

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