Read on for a day in the life of an ER nurse
Job Title: Registered Nurse – emergency room
Location: New Jersey
Salary/Benefits: About $75,000/ year. I can make more if I choose to by picking up overtime.
Employer Type: Hospital group, non-profit
Employer Size: Huge. They are the largest employer in several of the counties in my state.
How Long in Current Position: 5 years
Highest Level of Education: 2 Bachelor’s Degrees
Path to This Job: Bachelor of science in nursing, which qualified me to sit for the NCLEX, the test for RN licensure.
A typical day at work:
I work 7:00am-7:30pm three days a week, which is full time.
5:40: Get up at this time, which gives me enough time to shower, eat, pack a lunch, and drive to work.
6:55: I arrive around 6:55 most days so I can get to my locker, change my shoes, and put my bag away before the shift change report from the night nurses, which usually lasts about 20-25 minutes. I get an actual “lunch break” where I can leave the unit with another nurse caring for the patients in my assignment about 30% of the time. Most days I pack food that can be easily/ quickly eaten and just eat when I can.
7:00: Shift starts. Once I get to work there is no typical day for me. Some days are all easy fixes and boo boos – wounds that need to be sutured, sprained ankles, belly pain that turns out the be gas. Other days every one of my patients is crashing at one point or another- we see motor vehicle collisions (“MVCs”), gunshots, drowning, strokes, burns, septic shock, overdoses, suicide attempts, cardiac arrests – sometimes several of these at the same time.
Most days are a combination of the “walk in the park” and “everything is going to sh*t” days. We have fantastic teamwork in my department. We would not be able to provide the care that we do without it.
As I am a senior nurse in my department, sometimes my assignment is to be “charge nurse”, which I am paid more to do. The charge nurse role does not have a patient assignment of their own, but coordinates all staff in the department, triages arriving ambulances, takes incoming patient reports from paramedics, and assists other nurses in caring for critically ill patients.
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