When Jennifer Dukes was younger, her father, who is a physician’s assistant, used to take her on hospital rounds with him on Saturday mornings. Ever since then, she has known that she wanted to be a nurse. Today, Dukes is a level I trauma nurse at the Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dukes arrives at work at 6:45 a.m. each morning to get a shift report from the night nurse. She never knows what happened the night before or what she needs to be prepared for, but, for Dukes, that’s all part of the excitement of the job.
“Every day, when I get up in the morning, I don’t know what I’m going to hit when I come in those doors,” she says, “And that’s one of the things that I love about my job.”
Dukes starts her days by going and checking on her patients. Once she has visited her assigned patients and given them their medications, she cleans the other rooms so that they are ready for new patients that arrive. Then, there’s a brief moment of down time, but that is quickly interrupted when the trauma alarm sounds.
“Whenever the trauma alarm goes off, there’s a little bit of excitement. Everybody gets a little adrenaline rush,” says Dukes. “After the alarm goes off, they let us know whether it’s level I, level II trauma, what’s coming in.”
When the trauma patient arrives, they are immediately rolled into the trauma bay. Even though the patient isn’t even out of the stretcher yet, Dukes is immediately on the scene checking vitals and preparing medications that they may need.
“You have all these people around the patient. You’ve really got to be assertive and get up there and do your thing,” Dukes says. “There’s no time, really, for freaking out or else that patient could be severely impacted.”
Of course, there are pros and cons of any career. Dukes says that the worst part of her job is when she sees something on the x-ray or the CAT scan that may be cancerous.
“You just realize that their whole world just changed in that very moment,” she says.
On the other hand, she believes that the best part of her job is the variety and the fact that there is never a dull moment. Plus, she loves working with all the other doctors and nurses on her team.
“It is high stress,” says Dukes. “But, it’s a fun job. It’s a great job.”
Watch the video to learn more about Dukes’ level I trauma nurse outlook.