The Case for an Emergency
Preparedness Nurse Champion
According to reports, the United States will have more than 1 million nursing
vacancies by 2020.1 A 2008 ENA
survey found 40 percent of the
1,300 respondents experienced turnover rates of more than 10
2 Emergency nurses have to figure out how to maintain
the workforce and keep members engaged in the practice of
Several research studies have shown highly engaged staff have
higher levels of initiative, innovation and effectiveness, as well
as lower turnover rates.
3, 4 One way to help empower
stretcherside nurses is to encourage champions for different
projects. In addition to improving patient care, these nurse
champions have an inspirational effect on the rest of the team
as other staff become intrigued about the project.
When we think about nurse champions, the typical hospital
initiatives come to mind, such as catheter-associated urinary
tract infections, central-line-associated bloodstream
infections, hospital-acquired pneumonia, stroke or pediatric
readiness. I would also suggest having a nurse champion for
Disasters can happen at any time in the form of a natural,
weather-related disaster, manmade event, technological
compromise or even an infectious disease outbreak. Despite the
widespread potential threat of disasters, the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services in 2014 noted most training programs
around disaster preparedness were “knee-jerk” responses to
events such as the Ebola scare. This is despite significant
increases in disaster preparedness funding for hospitals and
public health departments since the attacks of September 11.
I have had the privilege of working in multiple states and been
exposed to different levels of preparedness in hospitals where I
have been employed, as well as various levels of regional and
community disaster preparedness. This type of work does not
appeal to every emergency nurse, but ED managers and directors
should give staff nurses the opportunity to explore this training.
Several training opportunities are free or at minimal cost.
Attendees of Emergency Nursing 2015 in Orlando had the
opportunity to participate in or witness a mass casualty incident
drill during a general session, which was a first for ENA. ENA’s
MCI participants could not have predicted that less than one
year later, Orlando would be the site of the biggest mass
shooting incident in the U.S., killing 49 people and injuring 53
others. Thinking about frontline colleagues trying their best to
help all the victims reminded me of my recent training at FEMA’s
Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama. I
participated in a hospital emergency response training for mass
casualty incidents, one of several training courses designed
specifically for healthcare personnel. This training is free to
state, local and tribal emergency responders.
ENA will hold its second MCI hands-on training at Emergency
Nursing 2016 in Los Angeles this month. (See article on Page
14.) Training sessions will start every 30 minutes during exhibit
hall hours Sept. 15-17.
I strongly encourage anyone who has staff interested in
emergency preparedness to seek out training opportunities,
especially those with the potential to become an ED champion.
Emergency nurses must be prepared with the knowledge and
skills to respond to disasters. n
American Red Cross Disaster Nursing
ANA Nursing World Resources for Disaster Preparedness & Response
Emergency Nurses Association Emergency Preparedness Resources
Technical Resources, Assistance Center and Information Exchange
Center for Domestic Preparedness
Federal Emergency Management Agency
1. Tubbert, S. J. (2016). Resiliency in emergency nurses. Journal of Emergency
Nursing, 42(1), 47–52. doi:10.1016/ j.jen.2015.05.016
2. Raup, G. H. (2008). The impact of ED nurse manager leadership style on staff
nurse turnover and patient satisfaction in academic health center hospitals.
Journal of Emergency Nursing,
34( 5), 403–409. doi:10.1016/ j.jen.2007.08.020
3. Scanlon, K. A., & Woolforde, L. (2016). Igniting change through an
empowered frontline: A unique improvement approach centered on staff
engagement, empowerment, and professional development. Nurse
Leader, 14(1), 38–46. doi:10.1016/ j.mnl.2015.11.007
4. Siller, J., Dolansky, M. A., Clavelle, J. T., & Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2016). Shared
governance and work engagement in emergency nurses. Journal of
Emergency Nursing, 42( 4), 325–330. doi:10.1016/ j.jen.2016.01.002
5. Veenema, T. G., Griffin, A., Gable, A. R., MacIntyre, L., Simons, R. N., Couig, M.
P., Larson, E. (2016). Nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and
response–A call to action. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48( 2), 187–200.
Mike Hastings, MSN, RN, CEN
ENA Board of Directors