The Emergency Nurse: A Spirited Survivor Mary Jagim, RN, BSN, CEN, Fargo, ND
Few people will ever realize what you do. They will not know about the long hours you spend on your feet, the obstacles you routinely hurdle, the clinical knowledge you possess, or the lengths you go to advocate for your patients. They will never understand how much planning and preparation and how many resources it takes to do what you do. Furthermore, few people will thank you for the touch of your healing hand, the warmth of your compassionate heart, or the brilliance of your mind. However, people would notice if you were not there. They would feel the impact your vacancy would create, and patients would not be cared for adequately. What you do is vital to patients in need of emergency care throughout the United States. We all need you to be ready and be there for the persons who seek your care. As I reflect on the crisis the United States has recently faced, it screams out at me just how essential emergency nurses are to our health care system. You are prepared to deal with anything, and now we know that anything can happen anytime, anywhere. You are a spirited survivor who
Mary Jagim, Manager of Emergency Center and Walk-in Clinics, MeritCare Medical Center, Fargo, ND, is president of the Emergency Nurses Association and a member of the Prairie Crossroads chapter; E-mail: [email protected]
J Emerg Nurs 2001;27:527-8. Copyright © 2001 by the Emergency Nurses Association. 0099-1767/2001 $35.00 + 0 18/61/120316 doi:10.1067/men.2001.120316
December 2001 27:6
faces the challenges thrown your direction with dignity, compassion, and respect for life and for death. You need to know you are never alone. Your emergency nursing colleagues throughout the world are there to support you, in good times and bad. As the events of September 11 unfolded, E-mail messages and letters of support and sorrow from throughout the United States and such countries as England, Ireland, Belgium, Australia, Turkey, and Canada were shared with nurses in New York and Washington, DC. These letters illustrate the strength of the emergency nursing spirit. The Emergency Nurses Association is a survivor as well, just like its members. As a 31-year-old association, it has faced numerous challenges throughout the years. The year 2001 has brought with it great challenges for ENA and many successes as well. One of this year’s greatest challenges occurred when, because of the interruption in the US transportation system, the Scientific Assembly scheduled for September 14-16 was canceled. However, because a quorum of delegates had arrived in Orlando, we were able to proceed with the General Assembly. We believed it was important not to let the evil acts that were committed completely interrupt our lives, and since we had gathered together, we decided we should go forth for the sake of our colleagues both present and absent. It was bittersweet to be together during that week of September 11. We were all frustrated that there appeared to be little we could do to provide immediate assistance to our colleagues in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. There were more fatalities than injured persons in those areas, and although our colleagues were prepared to do whatever they could for the victims, for most
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of them it was too late. While our colleagues cared for the injured and the families of those affected and assisted their EMS colleagues, the ENA members who were gathered in Orlando prayed and reflected on all that had occurred. We could only begin to imagine the pain of the lives forever changed that day. Although we could not be there physically with them, we wanted them to know we cared, so we obtained the names and addresses of the hospitals in the affected areas and sent cards of support. We also organized a fund-raiser for the Red Cross. Emergency nursing had already faced many challenges in 2001 and really needed to come together at this Annual Meeting. Instead of doing so physically, we came together in spirit.
the best of our abilities. If something needs to be done, then we must do it. I feel a tremendous pride in my profession. I believe we are the everyday heroes to the people whose lives we touch. We must continue to share what it is we do with others so they understand our contribution and what we need to be supported in our roles. When we are needed, we want to continue to be able to be there. When I arrived back in my emergency department after attending the General Assembly in Orlando, I found signs everywhere with flags on them that said, “Never Underestimate the Power of the Human Spirit,” which I found to be an inspiring statement. I am proud to be one of you. God bless!
Your emergency nursing colleagues throughout the world are there to support you, in good times and bad. On a lighter side, many ENA members faced some interesting challenges in trying to reach Orlando and then return home to their families. Probably the best illustration of emergency nursing spirit and determination was that of a member from Pennsylvania whose plane landed in Atlanta when all air traffic was stopped. She was unable to obtain a rental car, and so instead she rented a 17-foot moving van and drove by herself from Atlanta to Orlando (with her only luggage being her purse). Then there were the creative “Cracker Barrel Flamingos” from California, who rented 2 minivans to drive back to California and only stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel restaurants from Florida to Arizona. I believe the mother of invention really was an emergency nurse. While in Orlando, we also managed to incorporate the Anita Dorr Lecture into our activities. This year the Lecture was given by Sue Sheehy, a dear friend and mentor of mine. The title of Sue’s talk was “To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected.” Sue walked us through a history of nursing leaders to whom much had been given, and she informed us of their accomplishments. Emergency nurses are incredibly gifted, and as a result, much is expected from them by everyone. Although those expectations confer some degree of stress on us, we are committed to do all we can to preserve the quality of our patients’ lives to
Reviewers’ Acknowledgment The Journal of Emergency Nursing gratefully acknowledges the time, effort, expertise, and advice donated by the following reviewers of this issue’s content: June Andrea Susan Barnason Nancy Bonalumi Karen Kernan Bryant Kathleen Carlson Eileen Corcoran-Howard Frank Cunningham Dianne Danis Kathy Dolan Susan Fitzgerald Terry Foster Mary Fecht Gramley Valerie GA Grossman Maggi Gunnels Kacey Hansen Jan Johnson Susan Kelley
Patricia Kennedy Robert Knies Jaye Leopold Irene Louda Linda Manley Ben Melnykovich Colleen O’Brien Jim Richmann Kathleen Rourke Linda Scheetz Robert Schwab Michelle Silliker Marilyn Simon Donna Ojanen Thomas Anne Turner Polly Gerber Zimmermann
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27:6 December 2001