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Saturday, May 14, 2016

I wouldn't wish a nursing career on my worst enemy

My job has become overwhelming.  It used to be there were days when it wasn't that busy, when there was time to talk to my co workers, relax a little bit.  Those days seem to be gone.  There is not a day that goes by that it is not busy from morning til night. The waiting room is full.

The patients have become sicker.  I think most people think of ERs as places where people go for broken bones, appendicitis, car accidents, etc. Maybe that was the way it used to be.  Not any more. ERs have become high tech nursing homes.  Our patients are the elderly, the chronically ill, the mentally ill.

People are living into their 80's and 90's routinely these days.  Their health inevitably deteriorates the older they get.  They are the majority of our patients.  The next group is the chronically ill, those with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, the disabled,etc. Naturally they are in the ER more than most. Last but most certainly not least are the mentally ill.  There has been an explosion of mental health patients in the last five years, especially adolescent psych patients.  Due to lack of psych beds, they sometimes stay days in the ER waiting for a bed to open up.  They can be violent.

One other group I didn't mention are those who live at the bottom of society:  drug addicts, criminals, drunks, people whose lives are a pile of shit.  They make up a percentage of the ER traffic too.

When the patients are sick, they get more tests, procedures. Everybody gets an IV and IV meds.  They are complicated, a lot of work.

Add this to the fact that there every time I come to work I have about ten emails telling me the changes that have happened since the last time I was at work. 

Charting has become a nightmare.  We spend about half our time filling in blanks to make accrediting organizations happy.

Everything has become a protocol these days with many steps and lots of charting involved.

All this in the middle of dealing with patients and families fears, anger, demands.  Throw in short staffing and you have an overwhelming job that I wouldn't want my worst enemy to have. 

4 comments:

diana said...

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erbehr said...

I have been in Emergency care for 20 years now and I swear my co-workers and I had this exact conversation the other day. The ER is not the ER anymore. Most days we feel like we are the primary care physician dumping station. I do more and more crap that clinic nurse's did. So many of us are looking elsewhere any more.

Anonymous said...

I have the up-most respect for you and what you do. This isn't anything to remedy the horrible conditions in which your work, but please know some people are still very grateful for the care you show.

Aesop said...

So it's not just me, or only in my imagination, then...?

Hang in there while you can, get out when you must.


Once in a blue moon, we used to zero out the ER. One night, from 0330 to 0700, we had no patients.

That last happened in maybe 2008 or so.

Now, we're boarding so many patients because the hospital is full, we ARE the hospital, more often than not. Psych, med surg, pre-op, tele, ICU patients, all waiting, waiting, waiting, for the fewer and fewer beds the hospital staffs or provides.
And the perpetual conga line of life's losers who think we're their personal B&B for endless warm blankets, urinals, pain meds, and turkey sandwiches.