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The Times
  • Being an ER nurse is ‘like living on the edge

  • Countless number of patients pass through the emergency room doors every year and fall under the care of its nurses, doctors and staff. “I enjoy participating with my local hospital because it’s a way of giving back to the community,” said Heather Swartz, a registered nurse in Little Falls Hospi...
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  • Countless number of patients pass through the emergency room doors every year and fall under the care of its nurses, doctors and staff.
    “I enjoy participating with my local hospital because it’s a way of giving back to the community,” said Heather Swartz, a registered nurse in Little Falls Hospital’s emergency room.
    Today starts Emergency Room Nurses Week, so The Times spoke with Rebecca Akers at Little Falls Hospital on Tuesday. Akers, who has her bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY Plattsburgh, recently took over as the nursing manager in the hospital’s ER unit, coming from Albany Medical Center where she worked as an assistant manager in the ER unit.
    “It’s a nice small community,” she said of working in Little Falls. “It’s the kind of group of people here in the hospital. It feels like a good fit.”
    Why does she like being an ER nurse?
    It’s the dynamics that take place every single day. It’s the unknown possibility of what’s going to come through that door next ... I kind of like living on the edge.
    What are the challenges to being an ER nurse?
    Meeting the needs of the acutely ill, but also taking care of the lesser injuries ... balancing that and making sure everyone is being cared for in a timely manner, it’s like a dance of sorts.
    What is your staff size?
    There are over 20 nurses who work in the Little Falls ER, with up to five nurses present during a shift. This does not include doctors, patient care technicians, clerical workers and other staff.
    What sort of education does an ER nurse need to have?
    On top of attaining either an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, an ER nurse needs to have certification in trauma nurse corp curriculum. There are also other specialty curriculums ER nurses can be certified for.
    How many patients do you see?
    About 50 a day, about 350 a week.
    Common injuries seen in the ER?
    Head and limb injuries from children not wearing bike helmets or protective gear.
    When are you busiest?
    Evenings, weekends and holidays.
    Motto?
    “Keep calm and carry on.”
    A poster on Akers desk reads that and she said it has become her motto as a ER nurse.
    “Nothing gets better when you get stressed out about it,” she said.
    How will you celebrate ER nurses week?
    Akers said she will make sure her staff has plenty to eat.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ll celebrate with food,” she said.

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