The emergency room (ER) is an essential area of any hospital because it often deals with life-and-death situations. How medical personnel respond significantly affects the prognosis of patients who are in need of urgent care.
As a medical professional, experience in the ER can teach you to react quickly and provide proper treatment in a matter of seconds. It also exposes you to a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.
Indeed, there are a lot of advantages to working in the ER but is it really right for you? Let’s find out by talking about the benefits, challenges, and what you can expect from working in this crucial department.
What a New Employee in the ER Should Know
When you start working in the emergency room, you’ll be expected to know many things. Depending on your specialty, you may need to handle everything from simple tasks like checking in patients and taking their vital signs to more complex procedures like intubating patients, placing central lines, placing chest tubes, and performing point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) exams, like the E-FAST exam in a trauma patient or the RUSH exam in a hypotensive patient.
New employees need to know what they’re getting into before starting their job in the ER. Here are some things you should know:
The ER is often the hospital’s first point of contact for people from all walks of life. By working in the ER, you’ll be dealing with patients from all over the world with very different cultural backgrounds. This means you’ll need to effectively communicate with and treat diverse people.
Different Needs of Patients
One of the biggest advantages of working in the ER is also a significant challenge. Among all the departments in the hospital, the ER experiences the widest range of diseases and injuries. As a frontline clinician delivering emergency care, you should be able to quickly gauge the situation and determine the proper emergency protocols.
Workplace Culture and Environment
The ER is a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. You’ll be tasked with making quick decisions and executing them promptly. You’ll be helping people through some of the worst times of their lives. Some will be unconscious and unable to speak for themselves while others will be in shock and unable to talk clearly.
The average workday for a new employee in the ER is about 12 hours long with a couple 15 minute breaks for meals. You can expect to work on nights and weekends as well as holidays. If you are already familiar with the hospital’s operations, it may be possible to request specific shifts or hours that you’re more comfortable with.
Benefits of Working in the ER
Working in the ER is an exciting career that offers many benefits.
Working in the hospital ER is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling jobs you can get. The patients you treat are often very vulnerable and they need someone who can help them make sense of what’s happening.
Room for Growth
Working in an emergency room requires you to be quick on your feet and remain in control. This can be difficult since it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people coming through your door. But if you have a passion for helping others or just like a good challenge, working in an emergency room might be right up your alley!
Opportunities for Teamwork
Though you’ll be expected to deal with a wide variety of medical concerns, you won’t be doing it alone. You’ll be working with clinicians, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. Working with so many different types of people means opportunities for collaboration.
Whether you’re problem-solving your way through a situation or getting feedback from your coworkers, you’ll have to tackle cases together and learn from each other along the way.
Disadvantages of Working in the ER
Just like any job, working in an emergency room has its share of challenges.
Working Under Pressure
Working in an emergency room can be incredibly stressful. You constantly have to deal with patients in dire need of medical care. During peak seasons like holidays, the ER may also be understaffed. Plus, there’s the expectation that you’ll be able to work quickly and efficiently no matter the nature of the emergency.
ERs are notorious for being physically taxing. You can be on your feet for long periods of time and you may have to lift heavy objects or assist patients who are difficult to help. Because the ER is an urgent care facility, there is a lot of pressure to move fast which can be hard on the body if you’re not used to it.
How Often Should Someone Working in Emergency Medicine Take a Refresher Course?
Most medical facilities require their ED clinicians to be board-certified and be up-to-date with emergency medicine clinical care. This can be fulfilled by taking a refresher course every two years. The refresher course is designed to keep your skills sharp and ensure that you’re still up-to-date on the latest protocols and procedures. Whether you are an emergency medicine physician, an emergency nurse practitioner or an emergency medicine physician associate, you may need a refresher course in performing emergency procedures (airway management like endotracheal intubation, vascular access including central line placement or intraosseous line placement, point-of-care ultrasound including E-FAST exams and RUSH exams, and bedside procedures including lumbar puncture, thoracentesis, paracentesis or chest tube placement.
Before enrolling in an online refresher course, check for accreditation. Accreditation is a process used to guarantee that the quality of the education matches up with other schools offering similar programs. The accreditation process is highly regulated and overseen by an external body. A school’s accreditation should be shown on its website.
Hospital Procedures Consultants offers an online Hospitalist and Emergency Procedures course that can serve as a refresher. The course features an updated, evidence-based curriculum that covers 20 of the most often-used procedures in emergency rooms, hospital wards, and intensive care units including but not limited to airway management like endotracheal intubation, vascular access including central line placement or intraosseous line placement, point-of-care ultrasound including E-FAST exams and RUSH exams, and bedside procedures including lumbar puncture, thoracentesis, paracentesis or chest tube placement.
In addition, we also have valuable resources for emergency situations.
When it comes down to it, working in a hospital ER is like no other job you’ll find. It isn’t easy or glamorous but it is rewarding.
The satisfaction of being part of a team that saves lives every day is immeasurable. You’ll never forget those life-and-death situations where you made a huge difference, the camaraderie you’ve built along the way with colleagues, and the hard-earned knowledge and experience the ER offers.
If you love working with people and helping them through challenging situations, this is definitely the job for you.