It’s been quite a year for nurses working in emergency departments (EDs) across the country. From the opioid epidemic to the mental health crisis, emergency nurses have had to confront more than their fair share of difficulty. And they do it all while exceeding the high expectations placed upon them by the healthcare industry and the community in which they serve.
The responsibility faced by emergency nurses is immense. They not only have to perform lifesaving procedures on a daily basis, emergency nurses also have to ensure each patient that walks through the door has the best experience possible.
As we celebrate Emergency Nurses Week, it’s important for ED leaders to realize just how instrumental these team members are to the patient experience. How exactly do they do it?
Nurses Lower Stress While Juggling Multiple Patients
Especially noteworthy is how emergency nurses are able to make a positive impact on the lives of patients and their families during stressful times.
The ED isn’t a place most people enjoy or even plan to visit. Visits are often unexpected and can be a great cause of stress for patients and their loved ones. So for emergency nurses to be able to enhance the patient experience given these circumstances — also while caring for multiple patients suffering from varying conditions and all with different personalities and needs — says a lot about the skills theses nurses have at their disposal.
They Are Master Communicators
For emergency nurses, the ability to communicate effectively is increasingly important and for many, the most important tool. It’s truly the key to a positive patient experience.Effective communication is much more than telling a patient what to do to regarding treatment. It’s being able to listen and connect with patients to understand their concerns, no matter how trivial, and to put them and their loved ones at ease as best one can. Empathy and compassion are important components of effective communication and are invaluable when it comes to making the ED experience one where patients are empowered to have a voice in their care.
Emergency Nurses Manage Expectations
Nurses also play a pivotal role when it comes to helping patients anticipate what to expect. Expectations that aren’t met or grounded in reality given the situation are likely to have a negative effect on a patient’s experience in the ED. This is especially true across the board in stressful situations.
Communication comes into play here again — nurses understand better than most what patients can expect during their visit. When they are able to relay this information in a kind and compassionate way, it will often counter the impact of an extended stay or crowded waiting room.
And for emergency nurses, managing expectations isn’t solely limited to those of the patient, they often play an important role in managing expectations of everyone who enters the ED, from family members to EMTs, all of which shape the patient experience.
In closing, emergency nurses deserve all the recognition and celebration that comes their way this week and beyond. This week should also be a reminder for ED leaders, doctors, patients and their families of just how critical emergency nurses are. They help to provide a positive experience for everyone who walks through the doors of an emergency department. What do you think are some of the qualities that make a great ED nurse? How are you celebrating Emergency Nurses Week? How do you recognize the nurses in your life? Share your ideas and plans below.