Tauni Nessler, RN, a triage nurse in the Emergency Department at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, talks about her job. She discusses why she became a RN, what a typical workday is like, and how her role fits into the bigger healthcare picture.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
The role with triage is to do a brief assessment of each patient to determine her chief complaint, her risk factors and how quickly she needs to be seen by a doctor. This includes taking vital signs, completing a brief physical assessment and noting medical history, allergies and medications.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?
Overall, a patient's care starts in triage. As quickly as we can assess that patient, determine his or her needs and intervene, the better the long-term outcome.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
Regions is a Level I Trauma Center, so we are very busy. We provide care to a culturally diverse group of patients. Nurses collaborate with physicians, emergency department technicians, social workers, financial resource staff, paramedics, police and firefighters.
Q: Why did you become an Emergency Department triage nurse?
I've always worked well under pressure. I like having a lot of autonomy, which comes from the trust built up by working closely with physicians. I also like interacting with patients and families in crisis. Our job is to take care of patients and keep them informed and calm.
Q: What do you like about your work?
I enjoy the variety of emergency department work and the critical thinking skills required of the job. I always have to be thinking ahead, anticipating what can happen. We see people who have toe pain to mental health issues, pneumonia symptoms and heart attacks, and people who have been in accidents of all kinds. We really see and treat it all.