The ER Experience


Perhaps the best thing about my ER experience was the fact that I wasn’t on the receiving end of it. As a student-nurse at the UP College of Nursing, one can’t help but ask why I had to be where I was at. Simple. I was on duty.

September 3, 2013

 I have been assigned, reassigned, and then assigned again to an intubated client. Maybe my buddy nurse didn’t think that I wasn’t busy enough monitoring my patient, and the darned cardiac monitor attached to her, that I was given another client to attend to. So yes, I was staff nurse for a day. Almost. My primary patient’s ECG leads were loosely attached to her, her bed reeked because her relatives refused to completely clean her, and they have been ambu-bagging (manual resuscitating bagging) since the break of dawn. There was nothing to feel but empathy. IT’s a good thing they were Bisaya, the communication was at least easy. Having to tell them that I was Bisaya pud made the trust part easier.

My client didn’t upset me, because she was obedient. Her relatives were weary, but they managed to accommodate me in their crisis. It was actually the codes we’ve had that day. When I arrived at the ER for my duty, there were people crowding around this one window at the ACU of the ER complex. One of the patients had a code (cardio-pulmonary arrest). I was one of the lucky three, *rolls eyes*, who were assigned to the Acute Care Unit. There were patients who went into arrest, and then revived, and then arrested again. I knew right then that I wasn’t that lucky. Scratch that. I knew during endorsement that I was unlucky, having overheard two nurses talk about how they managed five codes in one shift. So much for first days, right?

Bottomline is that I enjoyed working with the intern who was assigned to my patient. Although he wasn’t as quick during procedures (I have to say that my client and her veins were a bit difficult), I felt valued as a nurse. At first I thought that he was looking down on me, as I was only a nurse. I thought that he was amazed that fourth year student-nurses like myself should have no idea was ABG extraction and AFB aspirations were for. I swear I heard him say, “Wow!” when I guessed the procedures. The thing is that I wasn’t guessing. All I wanted was for him to tell me what he was doing so that I could assist him in such procedures. I was about to suction my parent’s ET tube while he was doing his ABGs, that would have been very stressful for my client. I just appreciated that he treated me like an equal, getting my name and all. I tried to be as efficient as I can be, proving cotton balls, and doing techniques to aspirate phlegm. I even took two syringes because he was extracting blood from sclerotic veins. I got him two partly because I knew he would be needing a spare one, he won’t be able to get it right the first time. He also told me that his next rotation will be in the ICU. See you when I see you, good sir.

I had to pray hard for fewer codes the next time we go on duty at the ER. I was very much teary-eyed when I narrated everything to my parents. But as doctors, they too think that I shouldn’t get too attached, and that life at the ER has always been this stressful. People have to be on their feet.

September 5, 2013

 I met the good clerk, Ma’am Cza. If anything, she was very accommodating. She didn’t stay long because she had to attend the lecture this Dr. Samson had to give somewhere. The intern assigned to the triage was also approachable. At one point, he doubted the way I assessed the tachypnea my patient had. In my defense, that client had pulmonary tuberculosis, which is consistent with my findings. Nevertheless, he gave us cases to manage.

I very much appreciated the nurses at the ER. They manage to smile despite the stressors there are in the ER. They were cracking jokes, and kept telling funny stories. But our conversations were also very educational in that they readily answer questions we had on being nurses, on the foundations of nursing. I think that these kinds of dispositions are important in such toxic areas because they alleviate the gloomy mood. Thank God I met these people.

The ER complex at the Philippine General Hospital is like a mini-hospital within a hospital. It has its departments, and it never runs out of people. I feel very lucky to have been able to work here. 


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