Everyday, emergency department physicians and nurses witness traumatic medical events. Their patient's families beg and plead for them to "fix" their loved one. And once they finish caring for one patient, they move on to the next. And then the next. Day in and day out. Overtime, this repeated exposure to stress can take a toll on these doctors and nurses. In order to keep up with the pace of the emergency department, many simply cope by "sucking it up" or otherwise avoid coping with a particularly stressful incident. Avoidance, coupled with being overworked and other issues may lead to physicians and nurses experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Department debriefings are helpful, as is physicians and nurses practicing basic self-care techniques, such as being aware of personal emotional reactions, connecting with other and balancing their professional and personal lives.
How do you cope after an especially difficult patient or situation in the emergency department?