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Nursing can take place in a variety of different environments from physician offices, schools, clinics, hospitals etc. Each environment consists of different skills competencies and knowledge to specify level of care. Hospitals in the United states are differentiated by levels, which are recognized by a designation and a verification process. Levels range from 1-5 and are distinguished by the kinds of resources that are available, as well as the number of patients admitted annually. The states identify the requirements to categorize Trauma centers and that differs among other states. Trauma centers can be designated adults, pediatric or both. Level one trauma centers bestow the highest level of surgical care for patients. The American College of Surgeons evaluate trauma center verification to improve care. Verification requires all staff members included in the trauma teams to be skilled, knowledgeable and available in a wide variety of specialty fields. Trauma nurses typically work in emergency rooms, critical care units, and emergency teams such as flight teams and DECON response teams.
A trauma nurse’s environment consists of action and emergency situations on a day to day basis. It requires a discipline that covers various roles when caring for trauma patients with severe situations. Some of the rewards of having the title as a "trauma nurse" consists of advanced knowledge as well as a continued education. A few needed attributes to be prepared for this include a structured knowledge with critical thinking skills, rapid assessment, must be well-trained and well-versed, competent in a variety of skills to care for patients with different injuries from minor and acute problems, that may require emergency operations for response to disaster-related events. (Solheim, 2016) To endure these various emergency situations Trauma nurses must be thoroughly trained specifically in emergency care. To even be considered, these nurses must be highly qualified to even begin training, which include a two-year nursing degree, as well a certification from the Board of Certification for emergency nursing. Trauma nurses are required to take the Trauma Core course from the Emergency Nurses Association.
Working in emergency unit, trauma nurses are quickly rewarded with experience and a diverse environment in the form of a variety of cultures, ethnicities, diseases, and procedures. Utilizing experience and diversity, a trauma nurse should be able to adapt to various medical injuries frequently seen in the emergency rooms and will be quick to react and respond to patient's emergency health status which may require a medical intervention. (Solheim, 2016) Trauma nurses are normally the first health care providers to attend a seriously injured patient. Working in critical care experience is crucial and is needed for triage for evaluating the degrees of injuries. Trauma nurses must be able to provide several kinds of emergency procedures including: IV insertion, intubation, administration of drugs, monitoring and blood draws. Working in emergency rooms will expose nurses to everyday emergency situations from car accidents, assaults, such as stabs and gun wounds, to drug overdoses. These patients will have multiple systems disorders ranging from cardiac, respiratory, infectious, and strokes. These same individuals can also have a multiple of injuries consisting of cuts, dislocations, fractures and more. Medical conditions can vary from most extreme medical injuries to flu like symptoms and other non-life-threatening problems.
The greatest reward of being a trauma nurse is being exposed to an exciting environment, it's one of the most exhilarating specialty areas in nursing. It's a desired field for adrenaline junkies or nurses who thrive on a fast-paced working environment. (Solheim, 2016) Nurses will be required to react and make decisions quickly in a demanding situation. As a trauma nurse there will be a lot of hands-on work with patients and no two days will ever be the same, each day will consist of different tasks, patients, and situations. Nurses will have unexpected situations on a consistent basis. Unlike many other specialties, there are no sets of ratios.
Everyday can vary and the degree of acuity can vary as well. A lot of problem solving or "detective work" is required when patients are entering the unit and not knowing what's wrong.
Trauma nurses are always working in a busy and hectic environment with the ability to make a difference by saving lives every day. This environment also requires teamwork from all staff members collaborating with physicians, EMTs, tech, surgeons, family members as well as other nurses.
Challenge and Solutions
While Trauma nursing can be exciting and unpredictable it can also be a very high demanding job in a high stress and chaotic environment, unlike working in a specialty or structured department where nurses are better prepared, and outcomes are more predictable. With various types of hospital employees, nurses are often exposed to many of these stressors and may be predisposed to develop work-related psychological disorders. Including post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome.
Trauma nurses must be educated in just about every area of medicine and able to distinguish uncomfortable to life-threatening situations with all their patients. While some nurses thrive and excel in this type of environment, many cannot handle this day to day high stress and intense workload. It can also pay a big toll on a Nurses psyche and can be emotionally draining, causing a high-level burnout which can negatively impact patients.
As a trauma nurse there is a lot of exposure to negative and life changing events to their patients. Unfortunately, in this environment patients are severely sick and suffer massive trauma that can negatively impact nurses. One of the solutions to deal with this challenge is to keep a positive mindset. Positive emotions can improve relationships among coworkers and cooperation within other medical personnel. (Paige Roberts, 2015) Although it may sound easy and simple to do it can be easily neglected. Focusing on the good parts of the day and the positive impacts that are being made can go a long way in working in stressful situations. Having a positive mindset and positive vibes and supportive attitude with co-workers, patients, can also be beneficial to a positive working environment.
Talking it out, expressing internal feelings or emotions can be very beneficial when dealing with high level stress environments. Having a close friend, a family member or a coworker who has the time to sit down and listen, can help relieve stress, anxiety, and take weight off the shoulders. In critical care environment it’s easier to cope with emotional stress when you have a close friend a work to help you enjoy your shifts and deal with everyday stressors. (Sladek, 2017) Talking it out, can help release bottled emotions that can be detrimental to the mind and body overtime. Getting a different perspective may help deal with problems or stress in a different light. For nurses who continue to struggle to find the positives in their work environment and start to feel a burnout at work, may benefit from talking with a psychological specialist who is trained to deal with depression, anxiety, and stress.
Life as a trauma nurse can be very rewarding and challenging at the same time. Trauma nursing consists of advanced and continued education on a year to year basis and are always up to date on the latest drugs, procedures, treatments. These nurses are very well trained and versed in many skills. Trauma nurses quickly become experienced in wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, diseases, age groups etc. With exposure to different medical situations, they are able to adapt to various medical injuries as well as various medical interventions. Working in emergency departments and critical care units can be very exciting and unpredictable. It can be rewarding for those who enjoy and thrive in a fast-paced working environment. In contrast, it may be a challenge for those nurses who struggle working in a stressful, intense, and high paced demanding environment. With a heavy workload as well, many nurses experience a “burnout”. To deal with this high demand it can be very beneficial for these nurses to stay positive on a day-to-day basis, and to focus on the good, while brushing off the negative aspects of trauma nursing. Being able to talk or vent to someone you trust can help with stress, anxiety, and depression. It can help to stay focused, active, and stay positive at work to be able to deliver the best care to the patients.
- Paige Roberts, M. B. (2015, July). The power of the positive. Retrieved from American Nurse Today: https://www.americannursetoday.com/the-power-of-the-positive/
- Sladek, C. (2017, April 21). Must-Know Tips To Stay Emotionally As A Nurse. Retrieved from Nurse.Org: https://nurse.org/articles/emotional-health-care-for-nurses/
- Solheim, J. (2016). Emergency nursing: the profession, the pathway, the practice. Indianapolis, IN, USA: Sigma Theta Tau International, Honorary Society of Nursing.
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