A Day In the Life of an ER Nurse Practitioner

While I’m flying the friendly stormy skies, I’m pleased to bring you my first “Day in the Life” guest post. This one comes courtesy of Erin Tolbert, RN, FNP-C, who is the founder of Mid Level U, a blog and website dedicated to informing readers about nurse practitioner programs. Her site is a pretty awesome glimpse into NP options, and I for one will be utilizing it frequently as I apply to NP programs over the next year. Erin also practices in an emergency department and offered to share a “typical” day in her practice (is there really anything typical about ER work?).

So here you are. Thanks Erin!

Working in the ER, my shifts are usually at odd hours.  Today I work 6pm to 2am which I actually enjoy as it leaves the morning and afternoon free.  I spend an hour at the gym, return home to have breakfast and do a few chores around the house.  I write a blog entry for my website, www.midlevelu.com/blog.  Then, I meet a friend for lunch, read a book on my porch and get ready for work.  Already a great day and I haven’t even gone to work yet.

I arrive at work a few minutes early and immediately start seeing patients.  The ER seems to be constantly busy.  My first patient is a 40 year old male with abdominal pain.  I pick up his chart, go into the room and see him writhing in pain.  Kidney Stones.  After two years in the ER I can usually diagnose them within seconds.  I order him pain medication, along with a CT scan and some lab work to verify my initial diagnosis.

My next patient is a 25 year old female involved in a rollover MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident).  She is complaining mainly of right wrist pain.  I remove the rudimentary splint the paramedics have placed on her wrist to examen it more closely.  Her wrist is swollen, bruised and deformed.  I suspect a fracture, order pain medications and X-Rays.

Then, I move on to my third patient, a 42 year old male who was doing construction on his home and has gotten a nail stuck in his left index finger.  He was unable to remove it himself at home and suspects it is in the bone.  I order an X-Ray to verify his suspicions and find they are correct.  I then attempt to remove the nail by pulling on it with hemostats.  It is stuck in the bone so deep I have to enlist help from a male physician.  After successfully removing the nail, I write the patient a script for antibiotics, update his tetanus vaccine and send him home with strict instructions to return immediately if signs of infection develop.

In the ER, I never know what each day will bring.  I see patients with chest pain, abdominal pain and orthopedic problems.  I do procedures such as drain abscesses and suture lacerations.  I enjoy the variety and challenges my job provides.  I learn new things everyday.  I love my job and highly recommend the nurse practitioner career.

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