Where has the year gone! And what a year it has been ….
Already I am halfway through my second rotation working in the Emergency Department at BRHS and am immensely enjoying being part of the highly-skilled, diverse team of health care professionals. I have always considered being a nurse and caring for my community as both a privilege and a responsibility. For me, rural nursing remains where I see myself continuing to work and grow as a Registered Nurse.
The Emergency Department is one of the most crucial services provided to the East Gippsland community and we receive patients from near and far. The sense of responsibility felt towards the patients presenting to the department for care actually makes me realise just how important my work is. We are the front-line. We provide a public service that people depend on and trust. This instills a great sense of responsibility and duty of care towards the people of our community.
One of the things I love about working in the Emergency Department is the constant change! It’s something that I didn’t previously think I would like that much, and something that would once have given me a little anxiety; but, I’m actually loving the fact that the work is predictably unpredictable! Every shift, and even every hour, is different. I have to think on my feet, as the saying goes, and use a whole range of skills, including: assessment skills, clinical skills, communication and psychology skills, interview skills, and liaising and teamwork skills. This keeps the work interesting all the time – never a dull moment working in an emergency department.
More than ever before, the pressure and stress of the increased presentations to the Emergency Department has been quite overwhelming at times. Compounding this, the fact that resources are stretched and staffing shifts is always an issue, makes some days quite difficult. Learning self-care strategies and managing that work/life balance is really important for me to continue enjoying the work I do. I ensure that on my days off, I find the time to look after myself and keep up my hobbies and other enjoyments in life. Over the upcoming summer, I’m hoping to do some more camping in the High Country for example and have bought myself some new gear in preparation for this! I am really looking forward to some summer adventures. All the same, I feel a sense of responsibility towards my workplace and colleagues to help out as much as I can with filling shifts and being as much a teammate to my colleagues and friends as I can be.
Something that has really struck me working in the Emergency Department is how much the small things mean to patients. Showing that you really care about the person might be as simple as asking if they want you to call their family, offering them a cuppa or warm blanket, having a five-minute chat about something other than their medical ailment, or asking them if anything is worrying them. Going out of your way or going that extra mile for someone really isn’t that much most of the time, yet makes such a difference my patients’ experience. The many thanks and expressions of gratitude that I receive from my patients is very heart-warming and makes the difficult days worth it.
Because I have already been nursing (albeit in the ward settings) for many years, coming to ED the majority of my assessment, clinical and technical skills transferred across with me. However, taking that critical thinking to the next level is something that I’ve been able to work on in the setting of emergency presentations. I have nursed some very critically unwell patients who have required stabilising before being transferred to our High Dependency Unit at BRHs, or to other tertiary hospitals. Managing very unwell patients with complex conditions and complex medical/nursing interventions always makes me both a bit nervous but then excited when I start to see them respond to treatment and stabilise or improve, as the case may be. There have been several circumstances where I have had to employ patient-advocacy skills and be assertive to bring about the outcomes my patient need. Emergency Departments can be an overwhelming, stressful environment, particularly when things get extremely busy and everyone is trying their best to manage their patients and workload. I have found that building trusted, professional relationships with the doctors (many of whom are locums or visiting doctors), is really important so that I can get the outcomes I need for my patients.
You’ll probably be happy to learn that I have been successful in my application for a Transition Year at BRHS next year. Most likely I’ll be working in the Operating Theatres for six months, starting in January. This will afford me the opportunity to gain experience in anaesthetic nursing and managing patients’ airways and breathing. The skills I will learn and become proficient at by working in theatre will be invaluable to my future career as an RN and in undertaking a Post-Graduate Certificate the following year. Thank you again for your support and the Rural Nursing Scholarship for which I am grateful.