3 Important Characteristics of Emergency Department Nurses and Why We Love Them


It’s easy to take emergency department nurses for granted. Even though they’re what I consider the eyes and ears of any busy ED, they don’t always receive the credit and appreciation they deserve.

Friday marked the beginning of National Nurses Week, reminding us to honor and celebrate these nurses who are so instrumental in providing safe, quality care in the ED. But what makes nurses so amazing? Here are just a few reasons to salute these hardworking women and men who are vital to a successful ED..

Uncommon Agility

You would be hard pressed to find any other profession where agility is so crucial to success. Being agile in an ED means always being on your toes, anticipating the needs of patients, their families and doctors. Agile nurses know what a patient or doctor needs before they themselves know they need it and the right questions to ask. Nurses in many ways have the keen ability to see in the future, which is vital when a life is on the line.

Superb Communication Skills

Anticipating the needs of patients, family members and doctors is one thing — being able to communicate with each of these very distinct groups is another.

First and foremost, great nurses are incredible listeners. They absorb directives from doctors that could easily be drowned out by the bustle of a busy ED. They also connect with patients and caregivers, listening to them in a way that help give the patient a voice in their care.

But listening is only half of communication. Nurses also have to speak with patients in a clear, concise way that’s easy to understand. One minute they may be talking to a 6-year-old boy with a broken arm, and the next, a 50-year-old man with an addiction to prescription painkillers. I can’t think of another profession where one communicates with so many different types of people, across so many demographics and socio-economic groups.

Enduring Empathy

Nurses care about the wellbeing of their patients — though they hope they never see them again, in the ED at least.

Empathy is the reason nurses are able to be considerate and sensitive when setting expectations regarding recovery. Empathy is also the reason why nurses return to work after a hard shift.

The strong sense of empathy that runs through each and every emergency department nurse isn’t always obvious, but we can rest assured it’s there — empathy is the reason nurses show up to work each and every day.

If the emergency department is the front door of a hospital, ED nurses are the ones making the very first impression and make sure that door is open to those who need it most.

One week really isn’t enough time to honor nurses and the important work they do, but National Nurses Week is a nice reminder for hospital leaders, doctors, patients and their families to show their appreciation for everything nurses do.

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