ER nursing changes you FOREVER

It's been a good 6 weeks all told since I really WORKED, what with having to take all kinds of leave followed by my heart procedure followed by recovery followed by not working there anymore. So I wonder why I still think like I work there. It may be baked in. Examples:

  • Sirens heard. I still think, "oooo, is it a code?" Check time in case I might be going in in time to catch some of the action. Alternatively: MULTIPLE sirens heard. Check time hoping that will all be cleared out by the time I get there.
  • My calendar still tracks the phases of the moon. This is important. When I walk outside and see a full moon, I still think, "oh no." Then I remember, "ah, this isn't about me anymore."
  • I engage in deep deconstruction of weather philosophy. Will rain prevent or encourage an influx of patients?
  • I will probably never say the word "quiet" again, and I will probably also have a visceral angry response when others do. My teeth clench and I start hissing like a teakettle.

I'm in a strange place of really looking forward to my new job and experiencing nostalgia about the old one. There's a kind of natural high after a well-worked trauma or code that I think I'm in withdrawal from, a little.

But lately I'm thinking increasingly about the stuff I hated: being injured, puked on, sworn at, manipulated, and yelled at on a nightly basis, just to start with. Plus, I really don't consider the ER to be a bastion of trauma anymore. It's a primary care clinic into which occasionally some sick and hurt patients arrive, much to everyone's shock. I triaged probably 10:1 in favor of chief complaints like "my feet hurt because my shoes are too tight."

Toss in there the volume tangled up with the new Medicare reimbursement dictates for getting patients outta there, and, well, it was getting pretty stressful. I knew I wanted to work outside a hospital environment for a while, but the longer I think about it, the happier I am about the change. And as I say, it's not a permanent change. I'm pretty sure there will always be stupid drunk people, which means there will always be a need for ER nurses!