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One nurse’s experience of providing care while working within an overcrowded emergency department: An autoethnographic study


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Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding has been gaining increasing national and international attention in recent years, yet little research has examined the emergency nurse’s experience of this phenomenon. Undertaking this study allows me to share my experiences of providing care within an overcrowded emergency department that emergency nursing colleagues may find relation with, and connect one nurse’s experience with others in the ED nursing workforce. The experience of being an emergency nurse working within a demanding department cannot be adequately measured by statistics. The intensity of the experience and current working environment can be best understood by the sharing of my experiences. The aim of this study is to examine and highlight nursing issues associated with working within an overcrowded emergency department, and to examine my experiences of difficulties providing care. As a research methodology autoenthnography allows me to use personal narratives as research data and by doing so give voice to my experiences of providing care in an overcrowded emergency department.

Three themes entitled ‘What’s the harm in waiting,’ ‘Too busy to care’ and ‘Feeling all used up’ were established from the data analysis. These three themes all have many common characteristics and can be easily overlapped. The cultural theme that is identified through the data is that the notion of caring is at the root of my nursing practice and working within an overcrowded ED can compromise these values. This experienced distress is the painful feelings and the disequilibrium that happens when I am conscious of the appropriate action required but I am not able to carry it out due to barriers. This distress is a major problem in the nursing profession that affects nurses internationally and is described as moral distress.

I compared my experiences in narrative formation against published literature examining the issues that face ED nurses. I felt uncomfortable and simultaneously disappointed to uncover similar feelings of powerlessness and distress within my nursing culture. Like me many other emergency nurses ability to provide care is impacted by issues due to ED overcrowding. Writing and sharing my personal experiences using narratives and analysis has provided me with strength that I am not alone in this issue, and optimistically this will also educate and empower the reader, who may also face similar issues within their workplace. The issues and difficulties associated with overcrowding in the ED are complex and multifaceted, and it is important that ED nurses at constant risk of moral and emotional distress are not forgotten in strategic attempts to manage and improve this issue.

Item Type: Thesis (['eprint_fieldopt_thesis_type_masters_dissertation' not defined])
Additional Information: 30 credit postgraduate research project
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nurse, Care, Overcrowding
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Health & Social Practice
Depositing User: Gaby Douglas
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2011 04:01
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 02:30

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