My job

Working in emergency care is the best job you'll ever have

With an increasingly challenging drug epidemic in the US, development specialist Charlene Draleau says educating nurses to love what they do will make all the difference 

With an increasingly challenging drug epidemic in the US, development specialist Charlene Draleau says educating nurses to love what they do will make all the difference 

What is your job?

I am a clinical development specialist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the paediatric division of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, United States. In my role, I educate and mentor new graduate nurses from the paediatric emergency department (ED) and inpatient areas.

Why did you become an emergency nurse (EN)?

I always wanted to be a paediatric ED nurse. I saw myself taking care of sick and injured children. I wanted to be that nurse who could provide expert care and comfort to children and families when they needed it most. I always loved education and developed educational programmes for ED nurses while I was a staff nurse.

What are the particular challenges currently facing ENs in the US?

ENs in the US are dealing with a lot of violence directed towards them. In addition, we have a challenging drug addiction problem as well as an ever-increasing mental health population.

Is it still seen as an attractive career option?

Absolutely. There are many nurses who come into the hospital as new graduates who want to go to the ED. They transfer there routinely after one year or 18 months in medical-surgical nursing. We also have new graduate programmes they can apply for.

How and where have you developed your emergency care skills?

I worked as a nursing assistant for about three years while I was in nursing school. I started out in the adult emergency department, but was fortunate enough to be in the paediatric emergency department when I graduated nursing school. I was their first graduate nurse. I believe that this opportunity is the reason why I am so passionate about transitioning new graduate nurses to professional practice.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The excitement and passion that new nurses have for their role as a nurse. It is great to see a young adult transition into emergency nursing and the moment when they realise the importance of what they do.

What achievement makes you most proud?

Being selected to be a part of the Emergency Nurses Association education planning committee for the national conference, as well as being involved at a local level providing leadership and educational opportunities for nurses in Rhode Island.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced, and how have you overcome it?

Being a new graduate nurse in the ED. I felt as if the nurses were apprehensive about having a new graduate nurse in the ED. I worked hard to demonstrate that I was a safe and competent nurse. I developed trauma education for them. I always asked questions and was never over confident.

What advice would give a nurse who’s starting out in emergency care?

Do it because you love it. Be curious and ask questions. Have fun. It’s the best job you’ll ever have. Be a reflective practitioner. What did you learn? How did you make your patients feel? How did they make you feel? What will you do differently tomorrow? Have goals to advance your emergency nursing career.

What is likely to affect emergency nurses most over the next 12 months?

There is an abundance of adult and paediatric mental health patients entering EDs throughout the US and there is nowhere for them to go. Insurance is an issue and we lack the facilities to care for these patients. It has an enormous impact on the flow in EDs and deprives these patients of safe and effective care.

The Emergency Nurses Association introduced legislation earlier this month that would support the growth of inpatient facilities for mental health patients to address this crisis. 

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