On the frontline in A&E

SWAH Ronnie
A STUDENT placement in the Accident and Emergency Department at Craigavon Area Hospital made Ronnie Kernaghan realise that a career in a busy A&E environment was the right aspect of nursing for him. 
Now after 17 years in nursing and six years as an Emergency Department manager, he still enjoys his job as much as ever. Ronnie manages a team of just over 30 nurses and six permanent medical staff at SWAH. 
“Even though I’m in a management role, I still get down to the nitty-gritty and deal directly with patients because ultimately that’s what I came into nursing to do,” Ronnie explained. 
“I like the working environment, the variety of cases that come through the door on a daily basis and diversity of patients. Essentially people arrive into A&E in complete distress and in some circumstances within a short amont of time, you can have put a smile back on their face. The emergency situations can really get your adrenalin pumping as everyone works as a team to help save lives and make people better.”    
Coming to the job newly qualified, Ronnie says starting out his career in emergency medicine was a challenge where he had to either sink or swim.
“I loved my four years in Craigavon A&E in a very busy department. It was a great place to learn the trade. I have seen dramatic changes since I started in emergency nursing. Yes it was always a highly demanding and pressurised environment back then. You were always on the the go and certainly didn’t come to work every day to swing your legs but the demand now is unprecedented. It’s relentless for 24 hours a day in the hospital and primary care sector overall.”
While the difficulties in recruiting staff to SWAH have been well-documented recently, Ronnie is confident that future plans will make it a more attractive place to work in. 
“Emergency nursing is probably no longer seen as an attractive area to work in. That’s due to the demands placed on individuals during the working day and the unsociable hours involved which can be challenging when it comes to recruiting new staff.   
“Recruitment has proved troublesome but now we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Not so long ago we were quite nervous about whether or not we would even have an Acute Hospital here in Fermanagh. We have had assurances from the Health Minister that SWAH is here to stay. That has been cemented by news that we will be a trauma unit in the future where the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) will land. This stabilises our position in remaining as an Acute Hospital providing emergency services, ICU and theatres. 
“It’s going to be an exciting but huge challenge for the team here. Although trauma is a very small element of what we deal with here on a daily basis, it’s what makes a true A&E nurse and the reason why people join this department. It gets your adrenalin pumping and these are the type of patients that we have been trained to deal with.”    
Ronnie says a career in emergency medicine requires commitment and dedication to helping others.   
“You do hear negativity at times but you get that in every job. There is great job satisfaction in nursing but you need to be cut out for it. It can be difficult to unwind from it when you’re on the go all the time and under significant pressure with regards to worries bed capacity, patient flow, meeting targets and having the appropriate staff,” he added. 

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