Nicholas Fediuk, an ED nurse at Richmond Hospital, enjoys the challenge and daily change of a unit where every new day differs from the one that came before it.

Richmond Hospital ED nurse featured in Canada-wide healthcare story

On May 6, healthcare played a feature role in Postmedia-owned newspapers across Canada. Richmond Hospital ED nurse Nicholas Fediuk was featured in the story about Emergency Departments.

Thank you, Nicholas, for representing Richmond Hospital and the nursing profession so admirably.

Thriving under pressure: emergency department nurses in high demand

By Peter Kenter

Postmedia News. May 6, 2015

The quality of care patients receive in a hospital emergency department (ED) and the speed with which it’s administered is one of the most important metrics by which a hospital is judged.

But many EDs today are affected by nursing shortages. A 2013 report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information notes the number of nurses entering the workforce is finally outpacing population growth. However, EDs continue to face the challenge of recruiting enough nurses to fill available positions, says Kate Mahon, executive director of the Trauma Association of Canada.

Mahon has worked in health care for 30 years, both as a registered nurse and as senior administrator for critical care and emergency services at IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

“This is a field where people either love the high pressure environment of an ED, or leave it quickly because it doesn’t suit them,” she says. “There are always regular job postings, as much because we still face a general nursing shortage as the fact that emergency and trauma nursing requires a certain type of resilient personality. In many cases, particularly in rural areas, we’re seeing emergency departments shutting down or having their hours reduced, simply because there’s a shortage of emergency department nurses or doctors.”

Nicholas Fediuk, 26, counts himself a resilient type. He’s a registered emergency nurse at Richmond Hospital, a 200-bed facility in Richmond, B.C. that handles more than 50,000 emergency patients each year. The ED is classified as a Level 3 trauma centre, which can provide initial care for major trauma patients.

“I had aunts who were nurses, and just out of high school I worked with one of them who had a position at the Vancouver General Hospital ED,” he says. “It looked like a great job and I wanted to enter that field.”

Fediuk enrolled in a four-year college nursing program to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree and passed the provincial registered nurse examination (now a national exam). He then went on to complete a two-year specialized emergency nursing program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the only program of its kind in the province. A work placement at Richmond Hospital developed into a job offer in 2013, soon after graduation.

“I like going to work each day not knowing what to expect,” he says. “There’s an unwritten rule in the emergency department that you never mention how quiet it is or things will change in a hurry. I also like the range of patients I may be working with, from two-day-old babies to people over 100. We run into patients who require anything from surgery to medicine to psychiatric care and that keeps the job interesting. In the ED, I’m a jack of all trades with one focus — how do I help fix what’s gone wrong for this person.”

Fediuk is quick to point out that he works in an emergency department, not an emergency room. While TV dramas focus on superstar doctors, a real ED involves a team effort. Emergency patient care combines the talents of doctors, technicians and nurses working in other specialties, including those who perform triage, streaming patients for appropriate levels of care.

“We’re team members, but we’re taught to be proactive, not reactive,” he says. “A patient can go from being a little bit sick to very sick in a very short time. We need to work closely with doctors and other staff to alert them to what’s happening.”

Fediuk advises those considering a similar career to choose it for the right reasons. “It’s not enough to say you want a job that’s fast-paced and exciting,” he says. “Do you do well helping patients presenting with major trauma? Patient care and community service are always at the centre of nursing.”

Career opportunities can include additional positions in the ED, such as performing triage or other nursing disciplines.

“There isn’t really a distinct career path for emergency department nurses,” says Mr. Fediuk. “But there are always opportunities for more education and advancement. With a little upgrading I could probably port my skills to any country in the world.”


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