Blog Posts

Emergency Nurses Week

Emergency Nurses’ Week: What It Means to Me

Posted on Wed, Oct 12, 2016
Emergency Nurses’ Week: What It Means to Me

By Brent Walker, RN, MSN

Imagine waking up feeling like someone punched you square in the middle of your chest and in the faint distance hearing someone call your name.

That is what I remember the day my heart stopped and I was saved by my very own team in the emergency department. It’s my personal experience that connects me back to the reasons why I am an emergency nurse.

I drove myself to the Emergency Department “just not feeling right” on December 2, 2007. Seven minutes after I arrived, my heart stopped. My team saved my life that day. As I looked around the room, I saw the same men and women working together with incredible precision, the doctor knew exactly what to do and the nurses were already one step ahead.

Although there is clarity of even the minutest details of the clinical care, it’s the interpersonal connection that resonates. While there’s the expectation that those around me in an emergency have exceptional clinical knowledge and know exactly what algorithm to follow, it was the nurse who sat at my bedside holding my hand who I remember the most.

I recall the somewhat hidden look of fear in the eyes of the staff standing around me, the look of trepidation, knowing the severity of what actually just happened and the fact that someone they worked with closely just had one of the most critical events right in front of them. It’s the empathy expressed by them all at my most critical time of need that embodies the depth of passion and commitment of an emergency nurse.

Emergency nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team. Each of you makes a difference every day in peoples’ lives by combining compassion with state-of-the-art skills. I know firsthand how you make an impact in lives.

I challenge you all to take the time and really reflect this week on how many times you have changed for the better. It can be challenging to keep a focus on our mission as we scramble to keep up the pace of our busy lives and the increasing demands of the position. You are the constant in the many days of chaos. You are the one the patient values. You are the one patients can turn to for help and understanding.

Thank you for choosing emergency nursing and giving yourself to the patients, families and your team each and every day. You make the difference, and are appreciated more than you may hear on a regular basis. You may not remember the hundreds of patients that you see each year, but there is a guarantee that many of those patients will remember you.

Brent Walker, RN, MSN, is a director of clinical services for EmCare.


Nurses: Take Time to Care for Yourself

Posted on Thu, Oct 15, 2015
Nurses: Take Time to Care for Yourself

This year, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) is celebrating Emergency Nurses Week from Oct. 11 to Oct. 17. Emergency Nurses Day is Wednesday, Oct. 14. In a year when Ebola and the measles made international headlines, this year’s theme is “Celebrating the Courage of Nurses Worldwide,” recognizing that emergency nurses courageously stand at the front line of emergency care every day. Be sure to thank an emergency nurse today – and every day.
By Ginger Wirth, RN
I recently had the pleasure of being on a call that discussed provider burnout – from nurses to doctors to advanced practice providers and anyone else who “provides” care for patients and their families. The speaker, Dan Smith, MD, Studer Group® coach, national speaker, and practicing emergency department physician, talked about the importance of taking care of ourselves, which really resonated with me.
The delivery of healthcare is frequently a juggling act. As providers, we have to balance the clinical care we provide with the compassionate care we share, balanced with our internal beliefs and past experiences. At times these may be in conflict, but those truly dedicated to caring for the patients push much of that aside and do all they believe is right at the time to deliver the best possible care and outcomes for the ones we are caring for.
Clinicians have the “clinical” piece “down to a science” and are able to postulate a care plan or diagnosis easily, as most of us are “unconsciously skilled” when it comes to the medicine. It can frequently be the emotional side of caring for patients or even their families that throw us for a loop. Those in emergency medicine can attest that those feelings frequently get pushed to the side while we are in the thick of it and often are forgotten and never truly dealt with. We need to do better and take better care of ourselves.
3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself
Three areas where we can make a significant improvement in how we deal with these everyday stressors and take care of ourselves are fairly easy:
1. Sleep is Crucial - There are studies that show that those who are routinely sleep deprived, meaning getting less than 6 hours of sleep at night can have these physical effects:

  • Heart disease: Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. And to think that sleep deprivation plays some part in it boggles the mind.
  • Anger: Research has shown a correlation between hostility and increased sleep disturbance. So don't blow your stack; sleep on it instead!
  • Fatigue: Consider this—well over 100,000 car accidents in North America occur every year due to sleep deprivation. More than 6,000 fatalities. Sad, tragic, and unnecessary
  • Weight gain: Research shows a link between lack of sleep, weight gain, and obesity. Napping to lose weight? That works for me!
  • Anxiety: Recent research suggests that sleep deprivation can cause anxiety, fear and worry.
  • Blood sugar: Researchers have discovered a connection between sleep deprivation and diabetes, in particular, type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure: Studies have shown that people who sleep less than six hours a night have a significantly higher risk for high blood pressure.
  • Illness: Infections and weaker immune system
  • Frustration with life: Perhaps this is why alcohol and drug abuse are signs of sleep deprivation.
  • Irritability
  • Memory issues, including reduced cognitive function, decreased mental sharpness, lack of focus and drive
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased pain
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Inflammation (a factor in numerous diseases, including certain types of cancer) 

2. Exercise is so Important!
  • The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, five days a week, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.
    • Use some of the latest tools: Pedometers/trackers like Fitbit, Apple watch, Jawbone, Ped, Omron or Garmin. Most have apps that you can share with friends and challenge each other, which make the experience much more fun.
  • Decreases anxiety and stress
  • Helps control your weight
  • Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduces your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthens your bones and muscles
  • Improves your mental health and mood
  • Improves your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you're an older adult
  • Increases your chances of living longer 

3. Healthy eating - Remember we get out what we put in!
  • There is a balance to eating. Most days, eat from each food group: grains, protein, vegetables and fruits, and dairy. Listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied.
  • Variety is the spice of life (literally). Be adventurous. Choose different foods in each food group. Pick a recipe from that cookbook you bought on sale. You might find a new favorite. Eating a variety of foods each day will help you get all the nutrients you need. Use different spices to vary the taste of even your favorite foods.
  • Everything in moderation! We say that for most things in life, and food is no different. Don't choose too much or too little of one thing. All foods, if eaten in moderation, can be part of healthy eating. Even sweets can be okay. 

One of the most important takeaways from this is BALANCE. As healthcare professionals, it’s just as important that we balance our own lives and health just like we balance the care we provide each and every day. We deliver better care when we feel better ourselves. We make the difference in the lives we touch with every encounter, every day! Let’s give them and ourselves our very best! Next steps from here: Take a walk, eat a carrot and then take a good long nap!

Ginger Wirth, RN, joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for the Alliance Group. Her goal is to make positive changes in healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence, and the overall patient experience. Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20-plus year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.


Emergency Nurses Week: Improving the Patient Experience Through Compassion

Posted on Mon, Oct 12, 2015
Emergency Nurses Week: Improving the Patient Experience Through Compassion

By Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN

As I sit by the hospital bed that my best friend has now occupied for two weeks, I reflect on being a patient myself just a year ago. Being on this side of the bed is even harder than being the patient. You sit and wait and feel helpless. As a caregiver and a nurse, that challenge is even greater. Are these nurses going to take care of her like I would? Some shifts I don’t dare leave the room.

I’ve also been reflecting on the incredible media coverage our nursing profession has received after the Miss America Pageant and the stethoscope comments made on “The View.” This may upset some, but I have a different thought. Could the ladies on “The View” have been sharing their perception of nursing based on interactions have they had with nurses? Have they seen a nurse use his or her stethoscope?

I can share with you as a patient and caregiver that not all nurses assess their patients. Remember, in healthcare, the patient experience is how the patient perceives his or her care, not necessarily the reality of the care. Healthcare in general is judged based upon if staff members were nice, and if the facility clean and quiet. It’s hard to accept that we go to school for many years, continue to advance our skills with continuing education and certifications, and what patients want is for us to be nice.

Tips for Improving the Patient Experience

So how do we do that? Basically we use the skills we learned as children. Be nice and hold hands. Yes, you should sit down and touch the patients. Look them in the eyes and convey compassion. Remember that nursing is the art and science of caring.

Here are a few tips to make sure the patient experience is a great one:

  • Talk to your patients. There are plenty of research studies and white papers exploring the science of waiting. In a nutshell, people are willing to wait if they know what they are waiting for. Have you ever been in an exam room staring at the clock? Time creeps by, especially if you have no clue what is going on.
  • Involve patients in their care. Consumers are smart and have already Googled their conditions and made their own diagnoses. Let them know the plan of care and solicit their input: “Nothing about the patient without the patient.”
  • Show compassion. Being a patient means that they are sick or physically injured. They may be scared and definitely sleep deprived. They are stressed, so they may not be on their best behavior, but you have to make every encounter great.

You we love our acronyms, so here is one – PATIENT – to remember to show more compassion toward your patients:
  • Patience - This is a tough one in our busy shifts, but we want patients to feel that they are our only priority.
  • Affirmation and Attitude - Some patients need to know that they made the right decision to come to the hospital. Have a great attitude! It affects everything.
  • Time - Share the plan of care with the patient and give him or her an estimate of how long their visit will be.
  • Information - Give patients as much information as possible about tests being ordered or treatment plans. They have a right to be involved.
  • Empathy - Show compassion for what your patients are experiencing.
  • Nice - It’s so simple. Treat patients and family as you would want to be treated.
  • Trustworthy - Nursing is considered to be a trustworthy profession. Make sure we live up to this.

This year, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) is celebrating Emergency Nurses Week from Oct. 11 to Oct. 17. Emergency Nurses Day is Wednesday, Oct. 14. In a year when Ebola and the measles made international headlines, this year’s theme is “Celebrating the Courage of Nurses Worldwide,” recognizing that emergency nurses courageously stand at the front line of emergency care every day. Be sure to thank an emergency nurse today – and every day.

Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN, is the Divisional Director of Clinical Services in EmCare’s South Division.