Aims, Objectives and Background The intense working environment of the Emergency Department (ED) is exciting and rewarding; but is renowned for high staff turnover and burnout. The wellbeing and retention of the existing workforce is imperative. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of early careers nurses in the ED; identify aspects of ED they enjoyed, the challenges and explore potential coping mechanisms used to mitigate negative situations.
Method and Design A qualitative design was used. Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with adult and paediatric emergency nurses who had worked in the ED for less than three years. Data were transcribed, coded and analysed using thematic analysis. The setting for this study was an emergency department in a major trauma centre. Data was collected between January-August 2020 following ethical approval.
Results and Conclusion Four key themes emerged; (1) Drawn to ED Nursing’ ; (2) ‘Teamwork’; (3)‘Time to care’ and (4) ‘Psychological impact’’. Opportunities for learning and development and being able to provide good levels of patient care were identified important to participants. Challenging aspects of the job included high workloads, exposure to traumatic incidents, violence and aggression. The psychological impact included feelings of burnout, exhaustion, flashbacks, personal growth and perspective. Teamwork, a strong support network and opportunities for formal and informal debrief were identified as helping to mitigate challenging aspects of the job
By identifying the factors that maintain wellbeing and sustain the workforce, we can promote and support them. The benefits to a stable and well supported workforce in ED are many; improved and sustainable patient care, reduced staff turnover and alleviating pressures on the existing workforce. Research is now drawing on how we can provide psychological support to those who have been faced with caring for patients in a way that challenges their own moral framework.
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