Life in the ER
As an Emergency Room Technician, Breanna Schnitger’s 12-hour shift consists of the unexpected. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her career journey began in 2014 after attending an information session about our Phlebotomy course from which she graduated in 2015. She said, “I have now been with WellStar for over two years since obtaining my National Phlebotomy Certification.”
Breanna began her career with WellStar Cobb and was also asked to train and assist others in the microbiology lab. She took her skills to WellStar Paulding, a new state-of-art facility in Hiram where she works 12-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays. This schedule allows her to be home during the week with her family which includes four small children.
Breanna said the unpredictability of the triage section of the Emergency Department makes the time pass quickly. She also continues to utilize the skills learned in our program.
“Since this hospital is smaller, they do not offer a phlebotomy team as do the larger hospitals such as Kennestone and Cobb,” Breanna said. “My current position is in the ER as a technician where I use my phlebotomy skills on a daily basis and also other skills such as EKGs, splint application and accessing vitals.”
Her decision to pursue her Phlebotomy Technician Certificate has motivated her to continue her education. She said, “I am glad that I chose to get my certification and believe that it has allowed me many opportunities. Not to mention how much more prepared I will be when entering a nursing program — my goal — in 3-4 years.”
For the time being, the hospital will continue to keep Breanna on her toes. She said, “This area of the [Emergency Department] is never boring. Patients come in to Triage in pain and needing help. There is never a dull moment or lack of tears, blood and constant alert. My goal is that I provide a positive experience in a sometimes tense environment. I am inspired each time I work to do better for myself and for others.”
The Emergency Room Experience
5 AM — Alarm sounds
5:10 AM — Feet touch the floor
5:40 AM – Hot coffee and I’m feeling alive!
6 AM — Head out the door in my scrubs, digging in my bag for my hospital badge
6:30 AM — Arrive to work and head to the employee breakroom
6:40 AM — Swipe my badge and the day begins
6:45 AM — Listen to my manager update the day-shift ER Technicians and RNs on the night’s events and current patient statuses
7 AM — Head onto the floor dependent upon where I will be working that day: triage or main Emergency Department (ED). I will be given a phone later in the morning so I can be reached by the unit secretary and other co-workers
7:10 AM — Check the computer for tasks that need to be completed. Since this is the best time to get prepared for the day, I may check empty rooms to make sure we are stocked for the day. Carts need to constantly be stocked with gauze, needles, wound cleaner, clean towels, gowns, etc.
8 AM — Quickly check my emails and check my work requirement courses. WellStar requires that courses be completed so employees are always refreshed on policy/procedure.
8:30 AM — First call of the day comes in on my work phone: There is a patient who needs blood cultures to be drawn.
9 AM — After drawing the blood for this patient, I am responsible for labeling and sending it to the lab for analysis. It is not only important to draw the blood properly since tests can be contaminated, but labs must be labeled with correct times.
9:10 AM — It is not only direct patient care – much of this job is working on WellStar software and making sure that many of the tasks I complete are documented. This is critical for the patient, myself and doctors/nurses taking care of the patient.
9:30 AM — A second call comes in: There is a patient experiencing severe chest pain. I run down the hall to locate an EKG machine and then to the patient’s room. I find the room is filled with staff, and I start to enter patient information while each co-worker does their specific jobs. I attach all of the leads, print the patient’s EKG, and hand off directly to the doctor.
10 AM — Third call comes in and it seems as though the day has begun! There is a patient who needs bloodwork done and also a flu test in a room on the other side of the ER.
11 AM — I am asked by a doctor in passing to run a repeat EKG on my original chest pain patient.
11:30 AM — I sign in to my computer to see that my task list is growing and the priority is EKGs since these are time sensitive.
12:30 PM — Thinking about lunch … (keyword: thinking)
12:31 PM — Another call comes in — there is a patient who is currently having seizures and they need assistance in the room.
1:30 PM — Phone rings and it is a co-worker needing a lunch break and asking for relief in the Triage department, so I head his way.
1:35 PM — Patients are filling the waiting area, so I get to work taking patients back one by one accessing vitals. This is crucial in knowing if the patient is critical or not.
3 PM — LUNCH TIME!!!
3:30 PM — Phone rings and it’s back out on the floor to find that there are many patients that have been admitted and I start taking them onto the floors dependent upon admission (Med/Surgery, Telemetry, ICU, CDU…)
5 PM — On my way past the monitors, I realize that a patient’s oxygen level is 86%. I rush into the room to see the patient in distress and alert the RN. I retrieve a nasal canula and start the patient on 2 liters of oxygen.
5:15 PM — My phone rings as I am walking out of the room, and I am needed to apply a leg splint. The patient is in severe pain and it is my job to calm the patient while also doing my job. The splint is applied and after giving crutch 101, I am on my way to the next patient.
6 PM — 1 more hour and my 12-hour shift is complete.
6:05 PM — Phone rings: It’s a RN who is having problems getting blood from a patient. The RN tells me what labs she is needing and I collect the labs, send the labs, and check off the task in the computer.
6:20 PM — I am told by my manager we have a patient who is coming in by ambulance who is unresponsive.
6:30 PM — I check the computer for tasks and see that there is a visual acuity that needs to be done in a patient’s room and there are patients in the behavioral health department that need vitals updated.
7 PM — I check my watch … time to clock out!