How I Became A Emergency Room Nurse
December 18, 2017
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Two weeks ago I was writing about how I wanted focus on trying to relax a little more and work a little less.

But life is so unpredictable. Just when you think things are going to be a certain way, a new opportunity spontaneously presents itself.

For the past year my RN title has been Resource Nurse, Float Pool. Essentially this means that I am a resource nurse for short-staffed units and I can float to any Med/Surg or Telemetry unit in the hospital. Soon my skill set is going to get an upgrade.

Soon I will be training to be an Emergency Room Nurse.

Stethoscope in the shape of a heart

Emergency Room nursing is a whole new challenge for me.

I was recently selected to be in a new cross training program in our Emergency Department. Apparently they have some staffing issues and want to make sure they have trained Resource Nurses to help fill in the gaps.

In a few months I will be an Emergency Room Nurse at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital! Yay! Wait, wasn’t I just talking about not working so hard?  Yup. Isn’t this program going to be stressful, exhausting and require a lot more work? Yeah, pretty much.

But opportunity is knocking and I’m going to go ahead and open the door. This is the first time this kind of cross training opportunity has ever been available at my hospital and I would be remiss to pass it up. In return, I get to expand my nursing prowess and make myself more marketable in my field.

I’m a nerd. I admit it.

If I’m not constantly learning or doing something new I get board pretty easily.

That partially explains why I left a lucrative career to go back to college for a second bachelors degree in nursing at the age of 32. I talk a little more about that here.

Back in my nursing school days I wanted to go directly to working in the ER or ICU after graduation. I had the desire to challenge myself right off the bat by caring for the most critical and vulnerable patient populations. But first I needed a job.

Nurse Residency programs are the place to be for a new grad.

As graduation approached I was frequently reminded that most new grad RN’s had a slim chance of getting excepted into a nurse graduate residency program. In fact, I knew of many RN grads who had been out of school for over a year and were still waiting to get their first job. This was due to the fact that there was a large surplus of graduate BSN’s coupled with a very limited number of nurse graduate residency programs available. From what I hear from new grads today, the problem still exists.

"they may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Patients never forget how their nurses made them feel.

To not have employment after 3 years in nursing school was definitely not OK for a gal graduating with 35k in student loan debt!

Since there are more Telemetry and Med/Surg Floors in most hospitals I thought I would have a better chance of just getting my foot in the door if I started there. So to maximize my chances for employment I asked to interview for ANY Telemetry unit position that was available in the entire hospital.

Fortunately my gamble paid off. Shortly after I applied to the nurse residency program at UCLA I started my nursing career on a Neuroscience and Stroke Telemetry Unit. I stayed on this unit for about 4 years and became certified in the specialty.

I still love Neuroscience and I’m so glad I started my nursing career there. Even though I have moved on to other things, I still feel like it is my home.

I’m back in school again. Sort of.

I’m back in student mode. I’m quickly finding out that becoming an Emergency Room Nurse requires an extraordinary amount of study and training. Just this week I completed Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification (PALS) and Adult Certified Life Support Certification (ACLS).

Last week I shadowed two RN’s in the Liver Transplant ICU and Pediatric Unit to briefly introduce me to the specialties. This is because in the ER I will be working with Pediatrics as well as doing Trauma and Critical Care. Both are new specialties for me.

Next week I start orientation and will meet the preceptors who will help train me for the next 3 months. Then I start the 50+ hours of additional classroom training. I guess I will be doing a lot of studying after I put my daughter down to bed in the evenings.

Training to be an Emergency Room Nurse in a Level 1 Trauma Center will be very challenging to say the least. But I’m ready for it. It is amazing what opportunities arrive when you are least expecting them.

I’m sure I will have many tales to tell about the madness as an Emergency Room Nurse. Stay tuned!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

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