Below, I interview Rachel Barone, a registered nurse (RN) who works in an emergency department (ED) and also at an outpatient radiology center. 

Tell me about your background in nursing. Was this your first or second career?

My background in nursing is in critical care. Nursing was my first career, I graduated from nursing school in 2012. I started as a new graduate RN in the ED and have been a nurse for almost five years.

Where do you currently work?

I have a full-time job in an ED, but I also work part-time as a nurse at an outpatient radiology center. I respond to any emergencies in the office in addition to providing direct patient care. The office is large, and spans three different floors, so I see a lot of patients on a daily basis. I work in the computed tomography (CT) department, but I respond to any of the radiology departments in an emergent situation. As a nurse, I start IV (intravenous) lines, obtain medical histories to present to physicians, and respond to any emergencies. For example, if a patient getting a CT scan with contrast dye were to have an allergic reaction to the dye, I would respond.

What is challenging about your role?

The only thing that’s challenging is that you have to prioritize emergencies by yourself. You make a lot of independent decisions alone, so you must have experience and be confident to make quick decisions. If someone jumps into a dangerous heart rhythm, for example, you’re by yourself and have to think very critically and immediately. Or, if someone were to have an allergic reaction to contrast, I would make the decision about how to treat the patient.

What is rewarding about your position?

A job like this is great because it’s generally flexible hours, with no holidays, nights, or weekends. There are also usually good benefits. You get a lot of time to talk to your patients, which can be very rewarding, and you don’t always have to jump on to the next thing or task. A lot of the patients are very nervous when they come in, so you have to be calming and reassuring. Many patients are cancer patients, and I enjoy working with that population.

What is a day in the life look like for you?

I go into work around 7:15 a.m. and start immediately with patient care. I call patients back from the waiting room, interview them, and take a full history. Then, I make the sure physician order and the history match, start the IV if necessary, and run the scan. Afterward, I monitor the patients for any adverse reactions. You also have to keep the flow moving! 

Who would be successful in this position?

Any nurse who has critical care experience and who would be willing to work independently without a lot of guidance would enjoy this role. It’s also great for someone who needs flexible hours and who wants a less stressful work environment, but still enjoys critical care!

Laura Kinsella

Laura Kinsella, BSN, RN, CEN, is an emergency room nurse in Washington, DC.

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