Kyle Black, RN
Registered Nurse at Oklahoma ER & Hospital in Oklahoma City.
story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Each day brings a new story for registered nurse Kyle Black’s work at Oklahoma ER & Hospital in Oklahoma City. He must be prepared for every moment. Working in the ER allows him to make a difference in people’s lives during critical moments, he said.
“We always have to think about what is going on before it can be ruled out,” Black said.
Black said it’s enriching to be able to provide immediate care and support for those in urgent need. The fast-paced environment keeps him engaged and ensures every day is meaningful, he said.
“Working in the ER can be really grim. I think when we can turn an unfortunate situation into a positive outcome, it’s almost like bringing light into the darkness during those stressful times,” Black explained.
The cold weather has had an impact on some people. His patients with hypothermia are often homeless or elderly adults that have lost heat to their homes because they couldn’t afford the energy bill. Patients generally present flu-like symptoms or have abdominal pain, shortness of breath. During the summer and icy days, the orthopedic complaints tend to rise, he added.
“This one time we had this guy that broke into a house and got cut up pretty good. He ran from the police, and they found him. There was snow on the ground in the woods. He was also hypothermic,” Black said.
As soon as the man regained his awareness, he pulled out the tube from his nose and ran out of the hospital.
The ER patients can range from the sweetest grandma there ever was, to a man who had just shot his wife, Black said.
“But we’ve got to take care of them all the same,” he added.
There are usually three ER nurses to handle the intake of patients. Patients are often adjusting to the reality of an unexpected ER visit when they arrive. His calm demeanor and kind, friendly manner helps to lower their fears. It’s not helpful inpatient care for an ER nurse to appear stressed out before a patient who is already reaching the pitch of anxiety, he said. Being an ER nurse takes a special type of person like Black.
“You tell a good joke here and there,” he said. “Explaining a lot of information helps to ease them, too,” he said.
He informs patients step-by-step by answering any additional questions they have. With the necessary permission given by the patient he can answer other questions from family members or friends.
He understands as a dad what an emergency means. One day Black was grilling outside. His 3-year-old son came outside. Black turned his head for a second and his son touched the hot grill.
“The next thing you know he got a blister on his hand and he’s crying. It’s hard stuff, especially when it happens to your kids,” Black said. “I think when parents bring their kids in for the little things, I think they deserve a little extra leeway because it’s different from when you, yourself get burned.”
He became hooked on becoming a nurse when listening to his dad’s stories of the various roles in nursing he experienced, such as cardiac, ICU, neurology, and now ER nursing. He was also motivated by all the nurses he met who inspired him along the way. Black was reared in Tampa, Fla., where his dad worked at a busy hospital. The family moved to Oklahoma after Black graduated from high school. He chose to follow his dad’s footsteps.
In 2013, he began as an LPN after graduating at Mid-Del Technology Center in Midwest City. During LPN school he supported himself as a lobotomist. He was a lab tech assistant during his last year in the lab.
Black completed his RN credentials in 2016 after graduating from Rose State College. And three years later he earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Governors State University, based in Chicago.
Black has always worked as an emergency room nurse and continues as an ER inpatient nurse. Whenever a patient enters inpatient status, he becomes their sole RN caretaker and contacts other hospitals when his patients continue having an inpatient need after two days.
“I think nursing definitely makes you a different person. I don’t think everybody understands all the things we see — all the hurt, all the death, all the sadness.” he said.
The team spirit and camaraderie among the healthcare professionals has shown him the real power of working together to save lives and provide patients the comfort they need, Black continued.
“I think we have a solid group of nurses here,” he said of Oklahoma ER & Hospital. “Not one patient in the ER is a certain nurse’s patient. We all take care of every single patient. It’s teamwork,” Black said.