I Loved Being an ED Nurse

By David Campbell, RN, BSN, CEN, CPEN, CTRN
Manager of Education, Methodist Richardson Medical Center
(Formerly Emergency Department Nurse, Methodist Charlton
Medical Center)

I loved being an ED nurse. I say loved because eight months ago I took a new position as manager of education for Methodist Richardson Medical Center. But, for the first 12 years of my career, I was a full-blooded ED nurse. What attracted me to the ED and how did I last so long in such a fast-paced environment? I saw it as a benefit to my career, and enjoyed the variety it offered me every day.

My career in the ED took many twists and turns including stints in pediatric nursing, as a member of the transport team, as an ED nurse at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, and as a clinical educator in the ED. What’s so great about working as a nurse in the ED? I can sum it up in four words -- people, variety, technology, and gratification. Let me explain.

The people I worked with, the people I cared for, all of them contributed to the fast-paced, exciting environment in which I

thrived. In the ED, variety is the name of the game because you see and care for patients presenting with everything from the flu to multi-system traumas. You even have an occasional baby born in the ED! This variety provides a great foundation for expanding your career and your knowledge base. You also get to experience a wide variety of technology requiring hands-on skills. Many procedures are initiated in the ED -- catheters, drips, IVs, complex medication regimens, monitors, defibrillators, and much more.

Finally, the ED is probably the only place in the hospital where you can see the immediate results of your care. In other areas it can take days, weeks, or even months before a patient improves and the value of your care becomes apparent. But in the ED, for example, if someone comes in with a broken arm, you set it, splint it, provide pain medication, and send him or her home. The patient improvement, right before your eyes, is very gratifying.

Another benefit of working in the ED is the

opportunity you have to not only care for
the patient, but also care for his or her family. Families who come to the ED are anxious, worried, and craving information. I always try to put myself in the families’ shoes and imagine what I can do to comfort them and make their experience as satisfying as possible. What I learned over the years was the critical role that families play in the well-being of their loved ones - from the time they hit the ED doors until the time they were back
home. Families have as much to do with how satisfied patients are with their care as
the patients do.

I left the ED reluctantly, but I’m happy that my career path took me in a new direction. Every position I’ve held previously has involved some aspect of education. I’ve always loved teaching and my current position allows me to build on the role of educator as I plan for the educational needs of the entire staff of Methodist Richardson. My vision of a great educator is to inspire others to not only “get it,” but to “share it.”

I got into nursing because I wanted to help people. Now, I can reach so many more
people by training fellow nurses to think more critically and to better understand the disease processes.

One final reason to consider a nursing career in the ED -- it could lead to love. My wife and I met when we were both working in the ED many years ago. You never know where your career and life will lead you.

If you’re ready for a fast-paced, gratifying nursing experience, then maybe it’s time to choose an ED specialty at Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.

©Methodist Health System