Emergency Room Nurse

For Nikki Leonard, every work day is a new adventure. "You just never know what is going to walk through those doors," she says with a laugh.

Nikki is a Registered Nurse (RN) working as a charge nurse in the Emergency Department (ED) of Methodist Hospital of Sacramento. Nikki has been at Methodist for the past eight years, working in the ED the entire time. She earned her nursing degree at Penn State University and spent eight years working in long-term care on the East Coast before she and her husband decided to head west. "We really wanted more sunshine and we liked the lifestyle in California," she explains. "We came out here and we've loved it!"

When she made the move to the West Coast, Nikki also made a big career move, leaving long-term care nursing in favor of the hustle and bustle of the Emergency Department. "There is so much variety in the Emergency Department," she says. "We are typically busy all the time, even if it is not with critical care type cases, we will still have a wide variety of minor cases. You never know what you'll see behind the curtain in each room!"

Nikki says she sees all types of patients in the Emergency Department – all ages, all background, and all types of injuries or illness. "The most challenging cases are obviously the critical care cases. You could get a patient who is intubated [has a breathing tube], with a weak pulse and in real trouble. Those cases are very involved and difficult. And then your next patient could be someone with a cough or a cold."

Surprisingly, Nikki says her job in the ED actually works pretty well with her other role – that of mom and wife. She is married with two young kids and says her schedule of three 12-hour work days each week allows her time to be a wife and mother too. "On the days that I work, I am pretty out of the loop – my kids are in bed by the time I get home and I'm not involved in school stuff. But on the other days, when I'm home, I can be really present and involved. We can even plan long weekends around my schedule. It works for our family!"

Nikki says she likes to unwind from her hectic job with music – and by dreaming of her next travel destination! "We love to travel. We really enjoying learning about new places and planning trips."

When it comes to her job in the ED, Nikki has just one simple piece of advice for anyone in need of emergency care. "Know your medications," she says. "Knowing what medications you are on – including the dosage, the strength, the frequency – really helps us better care for you. That is one piece of information that many people aren?t prepared to provide when they arrive in the ED."

And Nikki recommends that everyone with non-life threatening conditions takes advantage of InQuicker, Dignity Health's new online tool that allows patients to get a designated treatment time and then wait at home rather than in the waiting room. "We strive to see our Emergency patients within 15 to 30 minutes every time... But InQuicker will make that process even smoother and more efficient."

Great advice from a woman who knows a thing or two about emergencies!

Learn more about how you can avoid long lines in the waiting room when your family needs emergency care. Click here.

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