Nurse writer shares stories from his 32-year career in book

David Daniels, RN, knew he wanted to be an emergency department nurse. He went to school and landed his dream job at an academic hospital.

His 32 years and counting as a nurse primarily in hospital EDs has been chaotic — at times brutal, frustrating and demoralizing, with extreme highs and lows. Like many nurses, Daniels has thought about leaving the profession.

David Daniels, RN

But the 61-year-old nurse writer of the new book “Oh, Nurse! One Man’s Journey Through the Nursing Life, a Personal Account of the Highs and Lows,” said despite it all, nursing is a scared profession.

“It’s a very demanding job if you take on the responsibility. You’re there present at a birth. You’re there present at a death,” Daniels said. “You’re dealing with people who really aren’t having the best day in their lives at all. You deal with injury, death and addictions. And it’s really the ER nurse who holds all of that together. It’s challenging, and it can be thankless. You could be working with staff members or physicians who can be very condescending and [you think] why would I do this to myself?”

Even though he regularly deals with tragedies at work, Daniels confirms being a nurse still is the greatest job in the world.

Suited for the ED

The nurse writer said he thrives amid chaos. “It feeds into my mania or something. The busier it is, the faster I’m working, the wider the smile on my face,” he said.

While working in an academic ED, everything flowed like a well-run machine, Daniel said. The physicians were passionate and brilliant, which helped to create an ED culture where physicians and nurses were always learning and worked as a team. “It was just a great place to work,” he said.

His career also has included nursing jobs at hospitals where the culture was very different.

“I really bounced around and got to some places that, to work in that environment, I just couldn’t do it,” Daniels said. “I worked in one emergency room where I had never been around a more dysfunctional group of individuals.”

He said he could never understand some colleagues behavior of allowing charts to stack up and not bringing patient backs. “The truth would be that the one thing they had in common was that they all hated the patients,” the nurse writer added.

Daniels said he doesn’t have a poker face, and when he’d voice his opinion colleagues could see the displeasure with the way patients were being treated. “It didn’t serve me well,” he said.

How nurses can make a difference

The nurse writer shared that one of the saddest stories of his career happened one Christmas Eve. He had finished his 3 to 11 p.m. shift and was leaving to assemble presents for his kids, when Daniels’ manager said they were short-handed and asked if he could work a double.

“It’s Christmas Eve and I wanted to go home but they were stuck — and I have a hard time saying no — so I …read more

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