Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My day in the Emergency Department

So as you know I spent the day in the Adult Emergency Department.

First, to preface everything, I could not sleep last night. I don't know if it was because I was nervous, or because I was excited, or because I was anxious. All I know is that I woke up every half an hour pretty much all night. I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am so I could make it to the ED on time.

I was assigned to be with a nurse that was my age. She had graduated the same year I had for my first degree, yet she didn't lord over me, she treated me as an equal, for which I was grateful. It was weird that she has already had 3.5 years of nursing experience, and here I am a 2nd year accelerated nursing student, graduating this upcoming april at age ... well lets say 25+.

I have to say the very beginning of the shift was disappointing. Although the nurse was a great person to work with, we were assigned to work in the Ambulatory Care area. This is the area in the emergency department when the lowest acuity patients go. This is for the patient who is feeling unwell, who has abdominal pain, and who has a infected wound, etc. These patients are not going to die anytime soon, but can be also considered the "walking wounded". These patients generally didn't need much except to have blood drawn for labs, and not much treatment treatment besides IV fluids and a prescription for pain killers, antibiotics, etc. This was NOT what I had expected for my one and only day in the adult ED, as I really wanted to see a trauma or VSA, or something with higher acuity.

What started as a craptacular beginning quickly proceeded to change my mind once the nurses started working. I observed a lot of blood taking, and IV starting, for which all the nurses were more then willing to teach me the theory and what to look for once I am able to do those tasks*.

*IV starting and blood taking is an advanced skill not taught to nursing students in Ontario until during their practicum or even post-graduation. It is a designated act by a physician, although now it's mostly nurses initiating any peripheral IV.

Once the nurses felt comfortable with me, and I guess I showed them an adequate amount of knowledge, they then got me to do assessments on people, as well as start bringing in people from the waiting room! I felt like a pseudo-ED nurse.. I have only called people from a waiting room because I taught birth control, I have never done this in the ED! The patients thought I was an actual nurse (until corrected), which was cool, even though I introduced myself as a student nurse.

By the end of the day I was bringing in people, updating myself on the chart, asking a few questions to the RN's to make sure I was on the right track, and then assessing the patient by myself. I'm sure if they had an issue with what I had said, or if I hadn't answered any of their questions, they would have followed up with the patient. It felt nice that they were comfortable with me doing these assessments. Dont' get me wrong, I realize I am a student and I still have lots of learning to do, but it's nice to think that the RN's trusted me to do the right job.

Although I didn't end up observing any traumas or any high acuity patients, I enjoyed my day. I enjoyed the non-routine, and that the patients changed constantly. This is a great sign... perhaps now I can be more assured that ED nursing is for me.

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