Monday, May 06, 2013

the reality of being an ER nurse

One of my co workers dropped a pearl of wisdom on me this weekend.  This might surprise you, but this is what she said: "Coming here has become a lot easier since I have decided that I hate this place".

Probably sounds funny to say it was a pearl of wisdom...but it  got me to thinkin'...  The first inclination when someone says that is to say: Why do you work here if you hate it? You should move on, etc. blah blah blah.  Then I realized what she was saying:  I hate it here, I'm going  to hate it here, but I have to work here for whatever personal reason I have and I accept that it will not ever be anything different, so I accept that.

That might sound cynical and negative, but at least it is realistic. I work it in a terrible environment. It is outdated, shabby, too small, noisy.  It makes my job harder.  Every day there is a new change, from charting to equipment to any other idiotic change that comes down from above. These are going to happen and I have no control over it because basically those that make the changes don't really care what I think.  I can't make the ER over so the environment won't change anytime soon.

Now, lets talk about the patients.  A lot of them are shitheads. Even the nice people who are nice in the real word can be shitheads in the ER.  I deal with the dysfunctional, the addicted, the mentally ill, the ineffective copers, the stupid on a daily basis.  It is the reality of my job.  My job is thankless.

The point of all of this? Acceptance.  I work in a shitty, stressful environment.  A lot of the patients are shitheads. I have little control of change. I choose to keep working here. For years, I have wanted it to be different, stressed over the fact that it isn't different.  Stressed over the fact that it won't change.  Expected it to change. Accepting reality makes it so much easier.  Look around you.  This is it. This going to be it today, tomorrow, next week. You can leave or you can accept the reality that hits you in the face every day.  Then when something good happens it will be a pleasant surprise


Bryan Training said...

You'll get used to it if you give it a try. And once you did, whatever that job is, one thing is for sure, you have grown as a person.

Aesop said...

Hate to ruin "the grass is always greener", but at larger newer facilities, they have even more shitheads, and some of them are the patients.
There's usually some particular waste of skin put in charge of screwing the pooch weekly, jujst to make sure you're never up to date on the latest changes.

I truly enjoy my profession, and I take a justifable pride in the work I do, and care very deeply for my co-workers, and my patients' well being, but I never love my job or my workplace, because it never loves me back. That's why they call it "work", unfortunately.
On a good day, it entertains me, and on an average day, it bores me. The rest of the time it just keeps my mind sharp playing whack-a-mole with the Squirrels Of Random Stupidity fate sends into my existence.

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NCLEX Preceptor said...

It's true that wherever a nurse may work, there will always be patients and relatives who metamorph into unfriendly and revolting beings when in the hospital. I've had experience with a demanding patient just for a simple and non-life-threaatening wound dressing and being an ER nurse assigned to the other 14 patients, I can only imagine the kind of ordeal you are going through.

If you have friends or relatives about to take the licensure exam, we've created an NCLEX questions mobile app. This app has practice NCLEX questions that help nursing students pass the NCLEX exam and the best thing about it is that it's for free! Download at

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Unknown said...

And I found this to be true, 10 years ago. Took a new job out of state. Left my comfy ER for new adventures, fame & fortune. Ha! What a pit I landed in. Not only outdated, crowded, dysfunctional and foreign to my way of nursing, the staff looked right thru me as if I didn't exist. I tolerated the unit for the year I promised, left & never looked back. What I hoped to gain from experience in highly touted trauma ER didn't pan out. Mentors hip is everything when starting a new job!