The population size of Waverly, IA is about 10,000. This is where I had been living and volunteering for the past three and a half years. I signed up to work in the Emergency Department of the Waverly hospital so I could begin to learn the ropes of real patient care. I often sat at the nurses’ station waiting for a call that would send the paramedics on their way to bring back a patient in need of help. During the majority of my shifts, I did not see that happen. Oftentimes, instead, someone would walk in with an injury or complaining of pain and they would be admitted and taken care of. I found the atmosphere to be fairly relaxed. Not in a bad sense, there just were not normally very urgent injuries. Typically, there were not a lot of patients at once, and injuries or concerns could be easily diagnosed and treated. I enjoyed working at Waverly Health and I am very grateful for the things that I learned there. Before moving to Denver, I thought I had a great feel for what an emergency department looked like. Boy, was I wrong.
The population size of Denver, CO is about 650,000. To say this is larger than Waverly would be an understatement. This is where I am now living and volunteering, spending much of my time at Denver Health, specifically within the Emergency Department. Volunteering here showed me that I knew next to nothing about working in a hospital. Denver Health is the Rocky Mountain Regional Level 1 Trauma Center, meaning they receive patients from all over the region to give them the best care. This was quite a change from the small hospital of Waverly, IA where I came from.
Things at Denver Health are urgent, fast-paced, and demanding, just as the patients and the injuries they sustain require. Half the time, I think I am more in the way than of any help to doctors and nurses who are constantly taking care of their normally full Emergency area. They are often receiving calls as well as walk-in patients that they sort through to work to get each patient taken care of. I have seen things here at Denver Health that I would not have experienced anywhere else, and I have already learned an incredible amount along the way. I have been able to see broken femurs splinted, manic episodes resolved, lacerations stitched, a trauma thoracotomy, and that was only in the past two weeks!
I have learned so much at Denver Health, and continue to learn more every day. I have even found that carrying sticky notes and notepads in my pockets is beneficial because more often than not, information comes at me way too fast and I can’t keep up! It definitely helps to write things down and ask questions later. Slowly, I am learning the jargon, the thought processes, and the protocol that comes with working in such a large and experienced hospital. Luckily, I have two more months so I can continue to learn and work on my own medical education. I get excited to work at Denver Health every day, and I look forward to (hopefully) making my way back here and becoming an employee of the hospital that I have grown to love.