I’m an emergency medicine PA, so I never know what I’m going to be walking into when I get to work. Some days it’s crazy. Some days there are no patients when I get there. Despite if my shift is slow, it can change at any second. Sometimes five patients check in at once, all while we are getting two ambulances from the nursing home down the street. Sometimes I go an hour without seeing any patients. Sometimes I go three hours without eating or peeing (that’s a long time to not eat, for me). But that’s the art of emergency medicine. You can’t predict an “emergency,” so my shifts are always unpredictable.
Like most people, I want to know what is going to be coming next. I NEVER pictured myself working in emergency medicine for that very reason. I wanted to walk into work with a printed schedule, so I knew what to expect for the day—no surprises. Totally not my job at all. While some days can get overwhelming, I love my job.
Two weekends ago, it was my weekend to work, and it absolutely sucked. We had multiple transfers and admits, our waiting room was packed, and all of our rooms were full. It’s the type of shift where you sneak into the bathroom, cry for a second, say a little prayer, and then continue on to the craziness. It was easy to get overwhelmed if I started focusing on the number of patients who had not been seen or looking at the whiteboard that clearly showed the number of patients in the waiting room. I get worried I won’t be able to see all these patients because I’ll run out of time or they’ll leave without being seen. I worry my patients will get frustrated because of the long wait times. I worry I won’t be able to discharge them fast enough. And just like that, worry has taken over my thoughts.
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? Luke 12: 25-26
When worry consumes me, it becomes mentally exhausting. I can wear myself out by worrying if I can cope with the pressures of a busy, seemingly never-ending shift. Luke 12 basically says that worrying is pointless. It accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t change the situation; if anything it makes it worse because worry weighs you down. God wants us to ask Him for help and ask for His peace to fill our minds. When you come face to face with God, His peace will over power your worry. Hands down. Or up, however you pray. Ha.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
I think the ER is a lot like life. Life is unpredictable; some days are more difficult than others. We encounter challenging situations and people, sometimes more often than not. However, despite your circumstances, God is always with you (Isaiah 41:10). Replace your worry with God’s peace by communicating with Him throughout the day. God has overcome the world, so there is no situation too difficult for Him to handle.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33