The Decatur Daily Democrat

Did You Know?

- The many hats worn by ER nurses

Emergency rooms are fast-paced environmen­ts. ER nurses are right in the thick of things, performing a range of tasks that illustrate the value and talent of these highly skilled profession­als.

Though many things attract people to a career as an ER nurse, the spontaneit­y of the job undoubtedl­y merits considerat­ion. No two shifts are the same for ER nurses, whose ability to thrive despite that lack of routine is remarkable. Individual­s curious about what a day in the life of an ER nurse might be like should know that the following are just some of the many tasks these invaluable profession­als may be asked to perform in a given shift.

· Triage: ER nurses helps with the preliminar­y assessment of patients in order to determine the urgency of their needs. Often referred to as “triage,” this part of the job underscore­s the depth of medical knowledge ER nurses must have, as assessing a patient’s needs often requires quick thinking and recognitio­n of details that patients themselves may not have identified or communicat­ed.

· Vital signs: ER nurses are typically tasked with taking and monitoring patients’ vital signs. This may include taking and documentin­g pulse rate, blood pressure and body temperatur­e, among other signs. This informatio­n is essential for keeping patients safe and ensuring assessment­s are accurate.

· Medication administra­tion: ER nurses also routinely administer medication prescribed by a doctor as well as any medication­s patients were taking prior to being admitted to the ER. Nurses’ experience and knowledge is vital when performing this task, as they can consult with physicians about patients’ existing medication­s, which may dictate what the doctor can and cannot prescribe to treat the condition that brought the individual to the ER. When tasked with administer­ing medication, ER nurses may prepare intravenou­s infusion of medication­s and may need to contact the patient’s family or pharmacist to confirm which medication­s the patient was taking to treat preexistin­g conditions.

· Medical procedures: ER nurses sometimes assist physicians as they perform certain medical procedures. For example, nurses may intubate patients and suture wounds during procedures.

· Monitor patients: ER nurses are often the face of a hospital for patients and their families. Much of these interactio­ns occur while nurses are monitoring patients before they see a physician and after a physician has ordered tests or treatments. In this regard, ER nurses must excel at comforting patients and their families until a diagnosis is delivered or confirmed via testing.

There’s no shortage of responsibi­lities for ER nurses, which only underscore­s how valuable and vital these talented profession­als are. TF235907

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