Since the early 1990s, Jeff Solheim, MSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, CFRN, FAEN, has worked in just about every facet of emergency nursing. Most recently, however, Solheim has added the entry of author to his biography, leading a team of other emergency nurse contributors in writing “Emergency Nursing: The Profession, the Pathway, the Practice,” a book published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.
Starting as a staff nurse in an emergency department in London, Ontario, Canada, Solheim has landed many roles including stretcher-side and administrative. His career has taken him to several stops in North America, and around the world, with Project Helping Hands, a charitable organization he helped create and lead, taking medical teams to some of the globe’s more impoverished areas.
His nursing journey began as a teen, when the care he received from nurses after he was diagnosed with cancer served as “a pretty strong influence,” Solheim said. He also worked in a nursing home as he battled cancer, “so the two combined set me up to pursue a career in nursing.”
Solheim lives in Portland, Ore., where he still runs Project Helping Hands and his trauma system development consulting firm, Solheim Enterprises.
The book contributors are a mix of the Who’s Who of emergency nursing, and some up-and-comers, all with unique perspectives. (For a full list of contributors see the editor’s note below.)
Q: What was the impetus behind the book?
A: There was no other book like this out there, talking about the profession of emergency nursing, our history, where we work and who we are, and putting it all in one place. We emergency nurses are in a relatively new profession, so this book filled a niche and a void out there.
Q: What is some practical advice for success your book might offer to emergency nurses?
A: One of my favorite chapters in the book talks about the unique opportunities available to emergency nurses. They can work for in the CIA and NASA; on cruise ships and overseas; just about everywhere. We discuss how to find and take advantage of some of these opportunities.
Another important chapter talks about self care. It’s so important as a nurse, but maybe especially as an emergency nurse, to take the time to take care of yourself. For example, consider your exercise regimen. There are a lot of nurses that swear by cardio workouts. But for what we do, weight training can be critical to prepare for the demands of the job and stay fit.
Q: What are some challenges others may not necessarily associate with emergency nursing?
A: Probably the foremost challenge emergency nurses face that others may not is violence. We’re the first door into the hospital, and often the only entrance at night. We take care of everybody in society: gang members, drug users, psychiatric patients, you name it. And we may deal with them or their families and friends while they’re in a terrible psychological and emotional state, while they may still be armed.
Next is wait times and overcrowding. Patients keep coming in, and we can’t turn them away. But if we have no place to put them, and we can’t get them admitted and moved through fast enough, the ED can become very congested very quickly.
Q: What are the top two things you believe emergency nurses can do to succeed?
A: First, learn collaboration. When five codes come in the door within a span of just a few minutes, the only way you’re going to survive is through a collaborative effort. A healthy ED needs a team that works together, that embraces new people and new ideas, and trusts each other.
But secondly, look at the bigger picture. You can be the best stretcher-side nurse ever, but you need to understand how what you do fits in with everything else. So many nurses are willing to take on extra shifts and second jobs, but I believe they’d be better off getting involved in hospital and professional committees, and extra projects outside of the ED. Nurses who pursue different activities and participate in other projects become better nurses. We have to take care of ourselves, we have to take care of each other, and we have to take care of our profession.
There were 16 additional contributors to the book: Pamela D. Bartley, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CCRN; Patricia L. Clutter, MEd, RN, CEN, FAEN; Debra Delaney, MS, RN, CEN; Darin L. Durham, BSN, RN; Laurel Grisbach, BSN, RN, CPHRM; Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM, FAAN; Rebecca S. McNair, RN, CEN; Fred Neis, MS, RN, CEN, FACHE, FAEN; Nicholas A. Nelson, MS, RN, CEN, CPEN, CCRN, CPN, TNS, NRP; William Schueler, MSN, RN, CEN; Brian Selig, DNP, RN, CEN, NEA-BC; Renee Semonin Holleran, PhD, FNP-BC, CEN, CCRN, CFRN, CTRN, FAEN; Melanie Stoutenburg, BSN, RN, CEN; Christi Thornhill, MSN, RN, ENP, ACNP-BC, CPNP-AC, CEN, CA-SANE, CP-SANE; Gayle Walker-Cillo, MSN/Ed, RN, CEN, CPEN, FAEN; and Aaron Wolff, BSN, RN, CEN.
Jonathan Bilyk is a freelance writer.