Being an emergency room nurse is an exciting, rewarding job, but it's definitely not for everyone. Just ask Jacob Williams of Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins.
"I've been a nurse for seven years and I've been an emergency room nurse for almost five years now," Williams said.
"For the first two years I was a medical-surgical nurse," he said. "It was more of a routine. You did the same things with the same people day after day. In the emergency room, you never know what's going to walk through the door next."
Though his job can be stressful, it's never dull, Williams said.
"I couldn't imagine doing anything else now, honestly," he said. "As long as I can help one person a day that makes it all worthwhile."
Working in an emergency room means facing new situations every day. Nurses must find a balance between caring too much and isolating themselves emotionally.
"The hardest part is separating yourself emotionally from the patient's situation," Williams said. "You see a lot of things other nurses don't see. You have to detach enough to do your job, but also be emotionally connected enough to talk to the family properly. It's a balancing act, it really is."
Williams' advice for those looking to become an emergency room nurse is to "forget everything you ever learned about routines, because it'll change completely. This is completely different from other fields of nursing. Not everyone can do this job."
"Also, don't do it for the money," he said. "You have to love this job to do it long-term. It's a very rewarding job, but it's a tough job. It's a noble thing to take care of people."
Emergency room nurses work long, hectic hours. Williams said DMH has emergency room nurses working in three shifts: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Williams has a vivid recollection of his most memorable night in the emergency room.
"It was when a military helicopter went down in Pocahontas County," Williams said. "Everybody came in at 3 a.m. to help that night. Nobody minded. We were all here to take care of those patients.
"For this area, that was a huge situation," he said. "Everybody was here as soon as they could be and ready to do their job. A few months afterward, the military sent a plaque thanking us for taking care of them."
Williams grew up in Coalton and graduated from Elkins High School and Davis & Elkins College. Both his parents are nurses, as are his sister, sister-in-law and aunt.
"It's kind of the family business," he said with a laugh.
Williams also offered advice for patients coming to the emergency room.
"Know what medications you're on," he said. "If you don't know, it could be a potentially fatal situation. You can take your pill bottles and throw them into a bag to bring with you, just so we know what you're on. Then we can give you the best care possible."