Every October, emergency nurses all across the country celebrate Emergency Nurses Week. Every year at this time, I also reflect on why I became an Emergency Nurse. This year, the reasons came quickly, prompted by the theme set by the Emergency Nurses Association: “Life Saving Hands.” The theme highlights the words “strong, kind, care, compassion, hope, skilled and trust.”
All these words can and do apply to any other nursing specialty. To be an Emergency Nurse, however, you must believe and practice these “words” every single day. Our “Life Saving Hands” are expected to care for patients who come to the ED without a definitive diagnosis and from all disciplines: Medical, Surgical, Pediatrics, Geriatric, Obstetrics, Psychiatric and Orthopedic. No other specialty can say this.
In my more than 30 years in the ED, all of my experiences have been memorable, with some more so than others. Of all the types of patients I care for, I hold the care of geriatric patients closest to my heart. For various reasons, they tend to be the forgotten ones. Older adults also are clinically challenging because of their decreased physiological reserve and ability to respond to stress. But what they can share is truly amazing. I have heard stories about their lives, about their children and their grandchildren. The history they have and want to share so readily, whether medical or social, is real. Many times I have been with them when they die, teaching me with dignity and grace what life is about.
Because this is the basis for all Emergency Nursing practice, education and learning is an everyday occurrence. It becomes so evident that we as a group must join hands and work together, learn together, care and trust together. We put these words into practice with our colleagues, with our fellow nurses and with the student nurses we mentor, but most of all with our patients.
Our “Life Saving Hands” grow stronger in everything we do when we are a part of the global Emergency Nurses Association. ENA is indispensable to its members as it advocates for patient safety and excellence in emergency care through educational opportunities, publications and research.
Being a member of this exceptional association, and working together with others who use “Life Saving Hands” to care for patients every day, is why I am proud to say I am an Emergency Nurse.
Jane Hottinger, RN, MSN, CEN, is Advanced Practice Nurse/Educator at the Emergency Care Center at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.