Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.
Welcome to the pit! It’s not easy getting a job in the ER, and it’s not for everyone, but if you love fast-paced environments and you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’ll fit right in. There are a few things you’ll want to know on your first day, so to help you out, we’ve compiled seven things you need to know as an ER tech on your first day.
Who you’re supposed to report to should be a no brainer, but you would be surprised how many new-hires come in and assume they can ask anyone for their assignments and go on their merry way. Make sure to ask who you should report to (if you don’t know already) and take the time to check in with them. Want brownie points? Come early and bring a snack for the staff.
This one is key to save you time and also create a sense of professionalism with your peers. There are too many scenarios where you will need to find a nurse, the Charge Nurse, the RT, or the Physician, just to name a few. When you need them, it’ll be a scenario where you need them NOW, and knowing what they look like will stop you from asking ten people or needing the unit coordinator to page them.
You should have been shown where the crash cart is located when you went through orientation, and you likely won’t be the one who’s called to grab it, but you do need to know where it is just in case, and you need to make sure you not only know where it is, but you also could get to it with your eyes shut (figuratively). As an ER Tech, you’ll also likely need to know where it is because you’ll be responsible for making sure it’s fully stocked.
An important role of an ER tech is making sure the rooms are fully stocked once you get on shift and again each time a patient is discharged, and you need to turn over the room. To do this, you’ll need to know where the supplies are so you can restock. This is also something that should have been shown to you during orientation, but never assume you know how to get there. You might not be in a hurry when you’re stoking a room, but there will come a time when you have to run there to grab something during a code, etc., and if you second guess which turn to take, you’ve lost valuable time you can’t get back.
Patients are needy, and they have every right in the world to be. It’s up to you to take their crappy day and make it better. This is commonly done by making them as comfortable as possible. If the nurse permits, patients can be given heated blankets when cold, ice chips as a snack (when they are pre-surgery, etc.), and snacks when they are hungry. Ask where those three things are located before you start your shift and never ask again. There’s nothing worse than a new-hire who has to ask ten times where something is located. If you can’t memorize it from the start, you might not be cut out for the ER, and that’s the cold hard truth. It’s vital that you have an impeccable memory, that you can think on your feet and that you’re able to work fast and efficiently.
Yes, the rooms are labeled, but if you continually have to look and can’t do it off memory, you’re slowing yourself down. Try to memorize the room/bed numbers starting your first day. This way, when they call a code, you immediately head to the right room without second-guessing yourself.
Pretty much anything can happen in an ER, and you have to be prepared. Do not bring home stress, anxiety, or drama to work. Do make sure to come fully energized with snacks, something to hydrate yourself with throughout the day. You’ll also need a great attitude and a ton of things in your pockets like pens and tape.
Hopefully, we didn’t scare you away. You’re here, you have the job, or you’re considering one, and at some point, you must have thought to yourself, I would love the ER. The most important thing is to make sure you’re energized and comfortable with the role you’re in and where things are at. Everything else should fall into place from there. You trained for this. Don’t let these seven things you need to know as an ER tech on your first day discourage you. You’re prepared, you’ve got this and you’ll gain great life experiences from this role. .
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