5 Reasons ER Nurses Love Their Jobs
We know that working in the ER can be tough. Emergency nurses (ER Nurses) are on the frontlines with repeat visitors, the angry and intoxicated, and all the complainers. The hours can be long and the work is rarely predictable.
But, so much of what makes it tough also makes it rewarding. As veteran ER nurse Jo Cerrado says, “After all these years as an ER nurse, one would expect a sense of disillusionment or burn-out. But instead of waning, my passion for emergency nursing is burning in its intensity. When you find the nursing field that you’ve been looking for, any other department is inconceivable. It is a double blessing when you enjoy the work you do.”
Here are the top 5 reasons ER nurses say they love their jobs.
They love the variety.
When it comes to the ER, there is no such thing as predictable. And that’s what ER nurses love.
“The ER is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get,” describes one early-career ER nurse. “I like the fact that you never know what is going to come through the door. I also like having patients of all different ages and acuity levels.”
The types of patients and cases you see isn’t the only thing that fluctuates. Emergency rooms have quiet times in the midst of all the action. “Unlike many other nursing specialties, there aren’t set ratios. One day you might be trying to manage 12 patients and 2 hours later a 1:1 vent patient,” one nurse says.
Unpredictability is part of the adventure. “It’s the closest thing to being an old Ranger platoon medic,” he says.
They love the autonomy.
In the hustle and bustle of the emergency room, it’s often an all-hands-on-deck situation. In this environment, nurses have more freedom to decide how to treat their patients than in other units.
Carry Ramel, nursing professor and veteran of the ER, says, “Working with critical patients, I learned quickly how to adapt to urgent situations, work autonomously, and think at a higher level.”
This not only allows for more room to make clinical decisions, it also builds a strong partnership between doctors and nurses. As one ER nurse puts it, “I like the autonomy — being able to decide what to do for a patient. I don’t think there is any other department that relies as heavily on nurse-doctor collaboration as in the ED.”
They love thinking on their feet.
In the ER, there may be no time to pause and contemplate the best course of action. Instead, nurses learn to think on their feet.
One nurse says he loves “the quick turn around, going into a situation with no info and figuring out what the problem is, being prepared for anything that walks into the door.”
ER nurse Valerie agrees, saying, “I like problem-solving, not knowing what is wrong when [patients] roll in, but figuring it out and treating it before they leave. It’s like a team of detectives, but with the human body.
They love the learning.
Doing all this detective work, seeing a wide variety of patients, and having the authority to make choices about their care, ER nurses get a constant education.
Ramel says, “Due to rapid patient turnover, ER nurses also work across several medical disciplines. Throughout my nursing career, I have gained valuable professional experience and knowledge in several different areas of the nursing field, from trauma to pediatrics.”
They love making a difference.
One nurse reflects on how working in the ER teaches you about the bigger picture, “It’s an environment of constant learning filled with great and awful moments. You feel like you are really making a difference for the sickest of the sick [and] realize how powerless you are in life, but then how significant a small act can have on a person.”
Cerrado says, “You correctly triaged a patient with altered mental status as hypoglycemic; assisted a battered woman find shelter away from her abusive husband; monitored your stroke patient’s vital signs and now he thanks you for your help. You found the time to listen to your elderly patient who missed her loved ones who never visit. You helped deliver a baby . . . It is rejuvenating to see that you’ve made a difference.”
Traveling as an ER nurse just adds to many of these elements. You get more change and newness, more autonomy, and more learning. And you get to make a difference in even more people’s lives.