As Emergency Nurses Week kicks off on October 11, emergency nurses around the world are reflecting on a year that has been like nothing many of them have ever seen. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in all corners of the world, emergency nurses continue to see influxes of patients that max out resources and energy.  Despite the grinding stress and challenging work conditions, emergency nurses never waver in offering professional and compassionate care to their patients.

Sponsored by the Emergency Nurses Association, which marks its 50th anniversary in 2020, the week’s theme is Heart of Gold. The organization is dedicated to supporting emergency nurses and advancing this specialty. Particularly during this time, the ENA is focused on providing resources and COVID-19-specific information for nurses as well.

The emergency nurse’s specialty has been front and center in 2020, with stories and images from the frontlines of emergency treatment highlighting a powerful story of workers who continue to put their own lives at risk to save others. Nurses have supported each other throughout the months, traveling to high-impact areas as backup help is needed.

Round-the-clock shifts and the severity of illness nurses have seen this year have taken a physical and mental toll. And with a potential second surge looming over the winter months, nurses are stressed and trying to figure out how to manage boundaries between providing care and caring for themselves. This week is a good time to give them extra support and show them how much you appreciate their work and their commitment. If you’re an emergency nurse, being aware of your own response to the pandemic is important. When you’re in the middle of it, it all you can do to treat patients, but when you are able, paying attention to your sleep, nutrition, and mental health will be critical to being able to provide the best possible care.

If you’re a student nurse or even a veteran nurse who has been motivated to pursue this career path, there’s no question that your days will be varied and busy. Because they see patients of all ages, from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, from every socioeconomic standing, and with complex conditions, emergency nurses use all their skills and are learning new skills all the time.

If you are wondering if you’d make a good emergency nurse, there are a few things to consider.  This career is especially suited for people who are able to focus in the middle of chaotic situations, who think quickly on their feet, and who rely on their evidence-based practices and instincts to work quickly and accurately.

Emergency nurses need certification and will want to continue with their education throughout their career. Because evidence-based practices change frequently and emergency nurses treat so many different cases, staying current on treatment of the conditions especially prevalent in your population is a good idea.

Help celebrate emergency nurses this week with #ENWeek and #HeartofGold in your social posts, writing to your legislators to support emergency workers, and offering a thank you for what they do.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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