straight lines make up my life...
All my roads have bends.
No clear cut beginnings....
And so far, no dead ends.
...May all your Ramblin' bring you
Sure do love
Wanna Shake Your Tree!
is an article written about the professionals that make up my new
career. It made me proud to see such a wonderful bit of
recognition. I have met many heroes in the Emergency Room, and I
hope that I am a competent member of
By David F. Baehren, M.D.
For a generation or two, we have
lamented the loss of role models in society.
As parents and individuals, we
naturally seek out others we would like
to emulate. Sadly, a serious search through the popular culture leaves
us empty-handed and empty-hearted. Thanks to a long list of legal and
moral shenanigans, many entertainers, politicians, and athletes long
since abdicated this momentous position of responsibility.
We usually look afar for heroes and
role models, and in doing so
overlook a group of professionals who live and work in our midst:
And not just any kind of nurse: the
emergency nurse. There are plenty
of people involved in emergency care, and no emergency department could
function without all of these people working as a team. But it is the
emergency nurse who shoulders the weight of patient care. Without these
modern-day heroes, individually and collectively we would be in quite a
This unique breed of men and women are
the lock stitch in the fabric of
our health care safety net. Their job is a physical, emotional, and
Who helped the paramedics lift the
last 300-pound patient who came in?
Who took the verbal lashing from the
curmudgeon giving admitting orders over the phone?
Who came to tell you that the guy you
ordered the nitro drip for is taking Viagra?
The emergency nurse has the thankless
job of sitting in triage while
both the long and the short buses unload at once. With limited
information, they usually send the patient in the right direction while
having to fend off some narcissistic clown with a zit on his butt. They
absorb the penetrating stares from weary lobby dwellers and channel all
that negative energy to some secret place they only tell you about when
you go to triage school.
Other kinds of nurses serve key roles
in health care and attend to
their patients admirably. However, few function under the gun like
emergency nurses do.
It is the emergency nurse who cares
for the critical heart failure
patient until the intensive care unit is "ready" to accept the patient.
The productivity of the emergency nurse expands gracefully to
accommodate the endless flow of patients while the rest of the hospital
"can't take report." Many of our patients arrive "unwashed." It is the
emergency nurse who delivers them "washed and folded." To prepare for
admission a patient with a hip fracture who lay in stool for a day
requires an immense amount of care--and caring.
Few nurses outside of the emergency
department deal with patients who
are as cantankerous, uncooperative, and violent. These nurses must deal
with patients who are in their worst physical and emotional state. We
all know it is a stressful time for patients and family, and we all
know who the wheelbarrow is that the shovel dumps into.
For the most part, the nurses expect
some of this and carry on in good
humor. There are times, however, when the patience of a saint is
In fact, I believe that when emergency
nurses go to heaven, they get in
the fast lane, flash their hospital ID, and get the thumbs-up at the
gate. They earn this privilege after being sworn at, demeaned, spit on,
threatened, and sometimes kicked, choked, grabbed, or slugged. After
this, they go on to the next patient as if they had just stopped to
smell a gardenia for a moment.
Great strength of character is
required for sustained work in our
field. The emergency department is a loud, chaotic, and stressful
environment. To hold up under these conditions is no small feat. To
care for the deathly ill, comfort suffering children, and give solace
to those who grieve their dead takes discipline, stamina, and
tenderness. To sit with and console the family of a teenager who just
died in an accident takes the strength of 10 men.
Every day emergency nurses do what we
are all called to do but find so
arduous in practice. That is: to love our neighbors as ourselves.
They care for those whom
society renders invisible. Emergency nurses do
what the man who changed the world 2,000 years ago did. They look
squarely in the eye and hold the hand of those most couldn't bear to
touch. They wash stinky feet, clean excrement, and smell breath that
would give most people nightmares.
And they do it with grace.
So, here's to the emergency nurse.
Shake the hand of a hero before your next shift.
DR. BAEHREN lives in Ottawa Hills,
Ohio, and practices emergency
medicine. He is the author of "Roads to Hilton Head Island." He
welcomes your feedback at DFBaehren@ameritech.net.
A nurse is
responsible—along with other health care
professionals—for the treatment, safety, and recovery, or demise of
acutely or chronically ill or injured people.
Meditation for Peace
All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?
He who seeks happiness
By hurting those who seek happiness
Will never find happiness.
For your brother is like you.
He wants to be happy.
Never harm him
And when you leave this life
You too will find happiness.
to the Buddha; from the Dhammapada, translated by Thomas Byrom)
Moustache: A hirsute
appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities.
History's best 'staches