Triage

I've been ESI certified for a few months, but the chargepeople kept forgetting about it and not putting me in triage. Then they put me out there from 11pm to 3am, where I successfully warded off patients like a good-luck charm---nice for giving the department a little break, but not so nice for me learning to triage when the poo hits the fan. My last few shifts I finally triaged when it was the busy time of the night and the waiting room was full and I had to actually, you know. Triage. You go back to the waiting room, you do not pass go (get in this wheelchair and can I just start bagging you right now?), you sit next door until I have a chance to see you...that kind of triage. I was WAY OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE. I've gotten reasonably good at keeping my own section going regarding having a game plan and prioritizing tasks, but this is whole new level of priority setting.

As a new nurse I think of my experiences as getting better headlights on a car. At first I was a dim bulb and could see only directly in front of me, and then relatively quickly my headlights improved and I could see the bigger picture plus spot possible upcoming issues. In triage you need more than headlights. Happily, I received positive feedback---unsolicited---from three different nurses, and although I'd like to say I don't need external validation, it certainly helps.

I like triage because it's a challenge; it feels like my clinical skills have to be crazy sharp, and I like that. I see a lot of different things, obviously, because normally I see three patients at a time whereas in triage I see them all unless they come by ambulance. It's good to leave one's comfort zone, and ya just gotta if you're a nurse. I also think that getting a bird's-eye view from triage will help me overall with this job, because it helps show the flow of the ER in general. I wasn't seeing that before. It'll be a while before I'm a triage wizard, but in the meanwhile it's a nice new part of my job.