The last several days have seen the backside of the crest of the tidal wave of patients in my ED. Finally, it’s just a regular ED and not an utter madhouse like it has been 24/7 for the last three months.
And, it’s too late. We’ve lost several of our experienced ED nurses to other departments and other hospitals. "A nurse is a nurse" you say, and you couldn’t be more wrong. Nurses in the ED environment are an unusual breed, and frankly it takes trying out about ten to find one who can really hack it, and one in twenty really gets it.
That doesn’t make the hackers immune from burnout, unfortunately, and we’ve been burning the brightest candles at both ends for months (metaphor alert).
When I hired on 3 1/2 years ago a traveler (traveling nurse) was unique, now there’s a bunch in our ED. That’s not to say travelers are bad, they aren’t; usually they’re experienced and smart. Unfortunately, they’re also temporary, so all their training leaves at the end of their contract. Thus, the institutional knowledge leaves.
ED’s aren’t run by the docs, but by the nurses, and when we lose one it diminishes us. I miss them all.