Careful what you wish for
When I decided to become a nurse I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an Emergency Room nurse, and then to be a manager. I knew that bedside nursing was just a temporary thing for me until I had the nursing skills to back me up as a manager. Not that I did like the patient care, but I knew my skills were better suited for management. Besides, we need some guys running things too.
Life in the trauma rooms was exactly what I expected and wanted. Gun shot wounds, thoracotomies, head traumas, blood and guts, everything I dreamed for seeing. But, when I wanted to be an ED nurse nobody told me about the patient with a runny nose for three weeks at the triage desk demanding to be seen immediately – before the blue little kid who just rolled in the door, or the countless number of intoxicated individuals that are brought in. None of my teachers in nursing school ever taught me how to put a grown man, twice my size, in an arm-bar so I could safely take him down without any assistance, because the rest of the staff is busy with their drunks too.
But, I loved every minute of it, for a few years. As fun as the drunks were in the beginning, after several years, they began to wear on me to the point that I knew I needed to leave the ED. I decided to leave the ED for a charge nurse position on a Med/Surg unit.
Although Med/Surg was not quite my thing, it was nice to get back to being able to spend time with my patients and actually do some nursing care. But when a manager position opened up, I jumped on it, and got the job.
I do have to say, with all my years of management experience prior to nursing, dealing with drunks in the ED helped me much more in dealing with nurses in the workplace. Nurses can be the most demanding, dramatic and difficult employees to deal with. From schedules to fighting with each other, the number of personal issues I have to deal with daily can be overwhelming and frustrating.
With all the frustrations with the nursing staff, upper management and budgets, I wouldn’t trade this for anything. Being able to actually make positives changes in how safe and effective patient care is delivered is what makes it worth it. But, I do miss the drunks sometimes.
Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed.
Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university.
Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.
By Rob Cameron