story and photo by James Coburn, staff writer
Doing emergency care nursing has given Wendy Scott, RN, learning opportunities with a variety of patients from birth to 100 years old, she said. She is a charge nurse on day shift at SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex.
Some people are unsure whether to go to an emergency room. At times their primary care doctors cannot see them that day.
Patients will call SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex for answers. The ER staff urges them to come if they feel like they need treatment.
“It’s a very vast population to take care of. It’s very thorough and I just like watching the different aspects at different age levels,” Scott said.
SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex on North Western Avenue in Oklahoma City is an ER hospital including outpatient care and doctors’ offices. It does not admit for medical procedures. (story continues below)
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Scott earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1994. She has previous experience in intensive care and pediatrics. She had always been at another local hospital but wanted to check out other opportunities. Scott joined the nursing team at SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex nearly seven years ago.
“They very much encourage continuing education. They encourage us to move up in our positions if there are other positions available within the company,” Scott said. “Our managers are very good about supporting us and leading us up if we want to move up in our careers.”
She helps patients become more comfortable by meeting them at their level. She will sit on a stool beside them to give direct answers to any questions. She offers them blankets and pillows and explains each procedure.
Nurses are given orientation opportunities when coming to SSM. Guidance is provided for certifications and everything else required for their positions. Scott said that emergency care gives nurses broad opportunities to apply what they learn to different fields of nursing.
ER nurses never know what type of health condition will come through the door. They must be prepared for the unexpected. The symptoms of a heart attack may differ between men and women. Women may experience more regular types of chest pains.
“In general, people think you have left-sided chest pain that radiates up to your neck or and arm. Sometimes they just present with a minor chest pain,” Scott said. “Our doctors are very good that we don’t brush that off. We have immediate time frames for getting an EKG. We run labs, X-ray, and we take that very seriously. We rule it out, especially if they have risk factors — their family, high blood pressure, smokers, that type of thing.”
Scott becomes familiar with some patients who have been in the ER before. Scott gets to know them.
So, it touches her life when people come for emergency care and call her by her first name.
“We do see people that come in and don’t have a primary care doctor or they can’t get into their doctor, and they feel comfortable coming back to our emergency room,” Scott said. “They like the staff and they like the doctors. That gives you a warm feeling when somebody says, ‘Hey, Wendy. How are you?’ We have a rapport with them and that’s what gives you a warm feeling inside.”
She said that in general, nurses need to be soft hearted. However, it’s hard for an ER nurse not to become attached to their patients while looking at their patient objectively.
“You have to realize that person is really sick. Sometimes it’s hard to let that soft heart go when you have a relationship with these people,” she said.
Scott has found ways to soothe herself. She is often on her feet a lot, so she will go home and put her feet up to relax.
“I have a close-knit group of friends that I can reach out to,” she said. “We’re all nurses and sometimes I have to unwind at night. I reach out to them with a phone call or text and just kind of release my emotions from the day. We kind of help calm each other down like that.”
Nursing careers are worth it, she said. She encourages people who are interested in nursing to go for it.
“It’s such a wide realm of possibilities,” she said. “Some people want to sit behind a desk or do research. But you will always have a job in nursing. This job is stability.”
Nursing has taught her to take one day at a time. Someone may come to the ER as an otherwise healthy individual, but the outcome isn’t good.
“I realize you need to have your ducks in a row. You need to be soft-hearted with those family members because it’s a shock because you don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day.”
For more information about SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex, visit: https://www.ssmhealth.com/