Emergency Medicine is not for everyone. As I prepare to start my nursing degree, I am thankful for the 15 years of experience that I have gained as an Emergency Medical Technician, and as a Paramedic. Once I am an RN, I plan on working in the Emergency Department, because that is where my passion lies. Many times, people ask me how I do it, and honestly, I am not always sure how to answer. For me, emergency medicine is a passion. When I feel like I can’t keep going, I remember why I started, and that is the most important advice that I could ever share with someone just starting out. Remember why you started. When you have a tough day, remind yourself of your passion to help others.
I know that as a student with no experience, the thought of taking care of real live patients was daunting. I was scared that If I did not remember everything I could seriously injure or even kill someone. I also worried about how I would react with death and dying, and the terrible situations that I was sure to see. These situations are inevitable in healthcare, and that is something you have to realize while you are starting out. When a situation occurs that bothers you, it is so important to talk with someone you trust about it, rather than keep it bottled up. This allows you to decompress and be the best provider that you can possibly be. I have learned that if my mental health is suffering, my patients and coworkers will suffer as well.
Studying and truly understanding the material presented to you during your program is so important, however one thing you have to realize is that there is so much more to being a healthcare provider, that only comes with experience. Many patients and situations that we encounter are not “textbook”, and critical thinking is extremely important. For this reason, the learning never stops as a healthcare provider. Do not think that once you’re finished with school, you are “done”. In order to be the best provider, you can be it is important to keep up with continuing education and new research.
Depending on the career in health care that you pursue, you may be faced with performing lifesaving procedures on patients. This can be especially anxiety producing for some people. As a mentor once told me, always remember that this is the patient’s emergency, not yours. You are there to not only remain calm, but to bring calm to the entire situation. Your demeanor, and the way you act can set the stage for how everyone else handles the situation.
Taking care of yourself as a healthcare provider is extremely important. Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising are all things that can keep you physically healthy. Sometimes as care givers, we tend to put ourselves on the backburner while helping others. Unfortunately, this is really not helping anyone else, because we need to be in the best physical and mental shape in order to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities.
Overall, the best advice that I can give people just starting out is to make sure that this where your passion lies, and that you’re getting into healthcare for the right reasons. As a healthcare provider sacrifices sometimes have to be made that include working long hours, waiting to eat, waiting to use the restroom, being exposed to communicable diseases, etc. It is important to understand these risks and know what you’re getting into. I always suggest that people volunteer or shadow someone in the profession that they are interested in, prior to starting school. This is a good opportunity because it can give people a clearer idea of what to expect, and it can also lesson some of the anxiety for people that have never been involved in direct patient care before. Being a healthcare provider is an amazing opportunity to help, as long as you realize that you have to take care of your own well-being too. Never feel as though your anxiety or stress is unwarranted, and please remember to reach out for help from a trusted professional if you would like to talk to someone. I have seen far too many people suffer needlessly because they were too scared to ask for help. Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you strong.
I wish you all luck on your future endeavors in health care!