What is Life in the ER Really Like?

I’ve worked as an ER scribe for a little over two months. I’m often asked, “How’s the job going?” or “What’s it like in the ER?” I usually rattle off an interesting story, or talk about how difficult and stressful the job can be at times (it is getting easier though).

But no matter what I say, it’s difficult to truly capture what working in the ER is like. It’s a completely different world. It’s a world I’ve never been exposed to. I’m only just beginning to understand how things work, and why things are the way they are.

A post over at ER Stories has helped me understand much of what I’ve been seeing. The author describes life from the perspective of an ER doctor, and it is an amazing description. It’s long but worth reading. Here’s a quote:

“Simply put, if you have not spent any significant time either working or volunteering in an ER, you really don’t know what it is like. People are at their WORST in the ER. Sometimes it is because they are sick or a loved one is sick. Sometimes it is just their true colours coming out. If many of you extremely touchy-feely types actually had to work a shift in the ER you would probably want to kill someone. Why? Because you don’t realise it but much of the population is either nasty, manipulative, violent, malingering, antisocial, and or disrespectful. Of course the majority of people we treat are not, but I guarantee if you have to deal with even 4-5 out of the 20-30 you might see on a given shift, you will re-think things. Imagine getting threatened by people who you are trying to help. Getting spit on. Getting told what do by people who don’t know anything about the practise of medicine except what they read on blogs or in newspapers. Witnessing the gross indifference people have for sick loved ones. Witnessing child abuse regularly. Dealing with intoxicated persons who want to kill you. Listening to people bullshit you about their medical conditions so they can either get out of work, get disability, or get narcotics (often for resale). Imagine getting zero respect from people for the years of training you have.”

Read the rest of the post here. It is worth your time. It not only provides insight into life in the ER, but also to the practice of medicine in general.

3 thoughts on “What is Life in the ER Really Like?”

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