Emergency department nurses are different

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Emergency department nurses are more extraverted, agreeable and open than the average adult, attributes that make them successful in the demanding, fast-paced and often stressful environment of an emergency department, according to a new study from the University of Sydney.

Belinda Kennedy from Sydney Nursing School, a 15-year critical care veteran, led the study. Here are her findings. [The research team also included Associate Professor Kate Curtis and Associate Professor Donna Waters from Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney.]

maitland ED

Emergency nurses are a special breed. Despite numerous studies about personalities of nurses in general, there has been little research done on the personalities of nurses in clinical specialty areas.

My years working as a critical care nurse have made me aware of the difficulty in retaining emergency nurses and I’ve observed apparent differences in personality among these specialty groups. This prompted me to undertake this research,  the first on this topic in more than 20 years.

We found that emergency nurses demonstrated significantly higher levels of openness to experience, agreeableness and extraversion personality domains compared to the normal population.

1-3 in ED Crowd

Emergency departments (ED) are a highly stressful environment – busy, noisy and with high patient turnover. They are the entry point for approximately 40 percent of all hospital admissions and the frequency and type of presentations is unpredictable.

Emergency nurses must have the capacity to care for the full spectrum of physical, psychological and social health problems within their community.

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 Belinda Kennedy.

They must also able to develop a rapport with individuals from all age groups and socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, in time-critical situations and often at a time when these individuals are at their most vulnerable.

For these reasons, ED staff experience high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion, so it’s understandable that it takes a certain personality type to function in this working environment.

With ever-increasing demands on emergency services, it is necessary to consider how to enhance the recruitment and retention of emergency nurses in public hospitals. Assessment of personality and knowledge of its influence on specialty selection could assist in improving this.

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The retention of emergency nurses not only has potential economic advantages, but also a probable positive impact on patient care and outcomes, as well as improved morale among the nursing workforce.

What do you think? Are you an ED nurse?

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