Emergency Nurses Week is October 8th – 14th, a time to recognize the incredible ER nurses who save lives on a daily basis. Their quick thinking, expertise and compassion play an essential role in helping people of all ages get the best care possible in an emergency. In this article, we share some of the responsibilities of Shore ER nurses, and hear what it’s like to be an ER nurse from members of our team.
Rapid Assessment and Triage: One of the fundamental responsibilities of an ER nurse is to perform rapid assessments and triage patients based on the severity of their condition. This critical decision-making process ensures that patients receive the appropriate care in a timely manner.
Merrick Adams has been an ER nurse at Shore since August 2022. She says in the ER they use specific strategies and protocols in the triage process. “One way that we can rapidly assess and triage patients is the Emergency Severity Index (ESI). This allows us to recognize clinical urgency in 5 groups from 1—needing the most urgent care—to 5—requiring the least urgent care.”
Adams adds, “When in doubt, we refer to the ABC’s: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. This forms the basis for triage and provides a starting point for questions to ask the patient, family, and/or EMS responder. While certain clinically emergent situations trigger protocols early to assist the triage process, some urgent patient scenarios may be harder to recognize (especially as a new nurse). I utilize my surrounding Nurse leaders and Coworkers to mold my process into a functioning triage routine. I am grateful for the patience, teaching, and exemplary nursing I have had the opportunity to model my own nursing after.”
Adams also stresses the important role that patients or their families play in the triage process. “It’s crucial to be honest with your providers and nurses so they can care for you or your loved one in the best way possible. Although the questions may seem tedious or personal, they’re vital to keeping you - and us - safe.”
Compassionate Care: In the midst of chaos, ER nurses provide a comforting presence for patients and their families, which is one of Shore ER Nurse Jason Schiavone’s favorite aspects of his career.
“Recently I had an experience where a mother was extremely worried about her son’s serious medical emergency, which we discovered was due to a medication reaction. I was able to explain to her exactly what caused his medical emergency, that it was something we could fix, and he would be okay. I love being able to provide that compassion and communication and alleviate their fears.”
Multitasking Under Pressure: Emergency nurses must be exceptional multitaskers, as they juggle multiple patients with varying needs simultaneously. The ability to stay calm under pressure is essential. Schiavone says, “The ER is always busy, but even more so in the summer months. So much is happening around you, but it’s a controlled chaos. We have great leadership at Shore and a culture where everyone jumps in to help one another, which enables us to manage well in those high-pressure situations.”
Lifesaving Interventions: From administering life-saving medications to performing CPR, ER nurses are often the first to intervene in critical situations. Their skills and quick response can be the difference between life and death. ER Nurse Luke Akerlind, RN, says, “Saving a life is an incredible feeling! I will never get tired of it! Sometimes with the volume of patients that you see and interact with it is hard to see the good that has been done since you are rarely there for the end result as they are admitted, transferred or discharged. In the moment after saving a life it is a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.”
During Emergency Nurses Week, we share our heartfelt appreciation for the emergency department nurses who work tirelessly to keep our community safe and healthy. Their dedication, compassion, and unwavering commitment to providing exceptional care in times of crisis make them the true heroes of our community hospital. We are grateful for their invaluable contributions and proud to have them as part of our healthcare team.