ER vs Floor Nurses: Understanding Complex Dynamics

3 Min Read Published June 29, 2023
ER vs Floor Nurses: Understanding Complex Dynamics

It’s a topic that often goes unaddressed in healthcare: the differences in mentality, practices, cultures, and priorities between emergency room nurses and floor nurses. If you’re a nurse, you’ve likely experienced the starc difference between ER nursing and all other specialties. We’ve all seen the memes about ER vs ICU nurses. You may have even joked that ER nurses are “mean.” ER nursing isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK! It takes a certain person to be an ER nurse. Floor nurses may not fully relate to ER nurses, but it’s important to understand all specialties. Together, we are all working towards the same goal. 

In this article, we delve into the reasons behind the animosity between ER and floor nurses, while emphasizing the importance of fostering understanding and collaboration between the two.

This content used under license from "Ask Nurse Alice."


5 Take Aways Explaining The Dynamics Between ER and Floor Nurses 

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, nurses from different departments often find themselves at odds with one another. This can be particularly true between emergency room (ER) nurses and floor nurses. However, it's crucial to remember that at the core of their roles, all nurses share the same goal of providing the best care for their patients. 

  1. Lack of Perspective:

One of the main reasons for the tension between ER and floor nurses stems from a lack of perspective. Nurses who work exclusively in their respective departments may not fully comprehend the chaos and pressure experienced by their colleagues in other areas. For example, floor nurses may not witness the intense environment of the emergency department, where quick turnovers are necessary to stabilize and transfer patients. Conversely, ER nurses may not fully grasp the intricacies and meticulousness required in providing detailed care on the floor.

  1. Misconceptions and Stereotypes:

Misconceptions and stereotypes further contribute to the divide between ER and floor nurses. Floor nurses might perceive ER nurses as merely putting a band-aid on patients and hastily transferring them to the floor. This perception undermines the efforts of ER nurses, who work tirelessly to stabilize patients before passing them on for further care. On the other hand, ER nurses may be seen as jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none. This misconception fails to recognize the specialized expertise and knowledge possessed by floor nurses in their specific areas of practice.

  1. The Importance of Empathy and Understanding:

To bridge the gap between ER and floor nurses, empathy and understanding are crucial. Both sides should recognize and appreciate each other's strengths, expertise, and the unique challenges they face. By fostering a culture of empathy, nurses can develop a greater appreciation for the work done by their colleagues in different departments.

  1. Improving Communication and Collaboration:

Enhancing communication and collaboration between ER and floor nurses is key to overcoming animosity. Opportunities for shadowing and cross-departmental training can provide valuable insights into the realities of each nurse's role. By gaining firsthand experience in each other's environments, nurses can better understand the challenges and pressures faced by their colleagues. This understanding can lead to improved handoffs, effective patient transfers, and ultimately, better patient care.

  1. Remember that all nurses share a common goal

As nurses, our ultimate goal is to provide the best care and ensure positive patient outcomes. To achieve this, it is essential to bridge the gap between ER and floor nurses by promoting understanding, empathy, and collaboration. Acknowledging the common goal of healthcare professionals: providing the best care for patients. Nurse Alice emphasizes the importance of understanding perspectives and breaking down barriers that arise due to differing priorities and communication styles across specialties. This lack of understanding can lead to frustration during patient handovers and transfers between departments.

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Annie expresses her excitement for discussing perspective sharing, which she considers her professional passion. She believes that unnecessary animosity exists in healthcare and can be mitigated by taking the time to understand each other's viewpoints. 

By recognizing and valuing each other's expertise, we can work together to overcome misconceptions, break down barriers, and create a more cohesive and seamless healthcare experience for our patients.

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