Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nursing Species in the ER Jungle

The Lifer: She's hardened, ruthless, scathing. There is sarcasm driven deep into every wrinkle and she is a valuable warhorse in the trauma room or when something serious is happening because she knows due process for almost every situation. She is usually precepting some meek new nurses and works them hard as a rite of passage. Other people would call it hazing- she will call it conditioning. She was probably nice once, but got twisted and jaded one day and crystallized to be stuck as the timeless ***** she is now. She needs to retire or take a long vacation. Seriously.

The Student/New Nurse: Unambiguously awesome; will do what s/he is supposed to do- does not depend on the technician for everything. Might actually take vitals for him/herself. Still speaks respectfully to patients, will grab them blankets, food, drink, socks, bedpans without sarcasm. Will get picked on early on. The nice ones tend to leave fairly quickly to become a floor nurse or take Nurse Practitioner school. The tough ones who stick it out usually have all the trappings necessary to eventually become a lifer.

The Filipinos: Glib, quick on their feet, generally cheerful- they get worked hard and take on some of the toughest patients per ER hierarchy. They generally socialize closely with each other only and are friendly but reserved to everyone else.

The Perpetual Team Leader/Charge Nurse: They no longer touch patients, might start an IV once in a while if everyone else is busy/not to be found for a new patient. Otherwise totally immersed in the drama of assigning patients to other nurses, getting the the patients upstairs into the wards, moving patients around. Stand in direct line to eventually become managers or administrative workers.

The Traveler: Have seen and done it all. Keep to themselves and will tell great tales if you get them going. Usually leave as soon as everyone starts to like them.

The Technician-turned-Nurse: They know the exact job description of the technician and will use one to the fullest extent of their power. Some had built up heavy resentment and will ask more of you than is practical or necessary. Either super sweet or rife with issues- there is no in-between. Are usually very handy and have a wealth of experience.

The Clique-sters: You know them. They wear the same danskos, same brand of scrub bottoms, wear their hair in similar ways, smack of gum and gossip. Hipper, hotter, holier than thou- as far as they think. They patronize patients by calling them sweetie, honey, young lady (when referring to grandma). They get grossed out by pee and vomit even though they are ER nurses. Will question or defy new residents (especially female residents) on decisions and laugh constantly, usually regarding inside jokes. The male version are all, for lack of a better word, studly- who trade workout tips behind the nursing station and strut around. Most likely found carrying heavy boxes, putting the largest gauge IV catheters in patients as possible, or looking up supplement/motorbike/working out information on the computer at the working station.

The Whore: Males love her but still call her one. Females won't touch it with a 20-foot pole. Probably has the phone numbers of the male residents over there, there, and there if you look in the phone that is permanently stuck to her hands.

Former Floor Nurses: Genuinely nice nurses who love the excitement of the ER. Invariably shocked at the lack of caution and regard for isolation procedures. They don't get caught up in drama when they first come in because they actually like it here. Yay!

Nursing Managers: Super diplomatic. All have the "soft" voice they use when talking to patients who are pissed off. Know everything about everyone- up on all the gossip. Harbor secret desires to return to the floor, but know that everyone else depends on them to do what they do. Unpopular by default, which is too bad- they are probably wonderful people, but it's hard to tell anymore.

Everyone else: it really takes all sorts- for example, the Paramedic-nurses are really cool to talk to. They are in the field half of the time- they know what it's all about and tell great stories. Everyone else keeps to themselves and are inconspicuous. They deserve to be treated as the awesome individuals they are, not subscribing to drama, gossip, or bile. These are often the introverts and observers who put patients ahead of their own "personas" and perceived values. There are d-bags in this group too, by the nature of all-inclusiveness, but nobody cares about them.

I raise a toast to everyone, good and bad, for making my workplace the menagerie it is every day. Thanks for keeping it interesting- I'll see you at work in a few hours...


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