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April 9, 2018

Help Us Help You

Guest Columnist

Amanda Miller, R.N., B.S.N.

MBA, Healthcare Administration

 

I have been a proud registered nurse since 2003. I have been lucky to work in a variety of facilities from New York City down to Washington D.C. and points in between. Most of my time has been spent in the Emergency Department of the several hospitals.

 

I loved the fast pace, the challenges, and the feeling of helping people in need. I have helped a mother bring her child into the world, and I have helped families say a final good-bye to their loved one. I truly love taking care of people.

 

I am surprised daily by the stories I read on social media painting nurses as lazy, unprofessional, and uncaring. I honestly can’t name a single colleague that I have worked with who fits into any of the above categories. When a person is brought into the Emergency Room, it could very well be the worst day of their life so far. We get that. Believe me, we do.

 

There is no other job I know where you can be hit, pinched, kicked, spit at, or cursed out, as a routine part of your job. I wish I was exaggerating (I am not talking about patients with dementia or other mental health disabilities). A rational human who is in charge of their faculties should never treat another with such outright disrespect.

 

As an ER nurse, what I most want to ask that is for you to help us help you, or your family. Hitting, pinching, kicking, or spitting does not assist anyone in the cause of treating illness. Believe it or not, nurses really do want you to feel better quickly. We want you to see the physician, get your medications in a timely manner and, hopefully, be discharged quickly. We are all in this together, and whether I am your nurse for eight hours, or 15 minutes, my professional responsibility to you is not time sensitive.

 

While we’re on the subject, here are a few tips to keep in mind for a more expeditious Emergency Department experience. These are pretty universal; and can be used at any healthcare facility.

 

First, and foremost, please be honest and forthcoming with your medical symptoms and history. We can’t read minds. We read test results, and you don’t want to have unnecessary testing that is both expensive and time consuming.

 

Do not come to the Emergency Department expecting us to refill your opioid prescription. Emergency physicians will prescribe opioids if clinically indicated, until you can be seen by your own physician or specialist.

 

Speaking of your physician, the Emergency Department is not a primary care provider. Emergency physicians have specialized training to recognize and treat emergencies (life threatening situations). They are not meant to replace a primary care physician who manages all aspects of your healthcare. If you are unable to be seen by your primary care physician, or feel that it is a more emergent situation, by all means a visit to an Urgent Care or Emergency Department may be your best choice.

 

Hospitals are understaffed, underfunded, and overused since the passing of the Affordable Care Act. Don’t get me wrong, healthcare is essential. Some of the tips above are simply suggestions for how to enhance your care on your arrival at the Emergency Department.

 

As healthcare professionals, we are dedicated to caring for you, in spite of the hitting, pinching, kicking, or spitting. We love our job, and, for many of us, nursing is a calling and not just a job.

 

At the end of the day, all we want to do is help, so help us help you.

 



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