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Nurse on the Run

Emergency Nurse's Association: What's in it for me?

Published October 1, 2013 11:42 AM by Lorettajo Kapinos

In September, I attended the 2013 Emergency Nurse's National Conference. This was my second national conference this year. Before 2013, I barely gave the association a second thought.


I did not see the value in joining. That's why.

What changed?

Like any major alteration in ideals, my decision to become active in the ENA is a long story filled with fateful twists and turns, including some blind corners. But the short version? I was curious about what the ENA had to offer. As a result of a small inquiry, I was challenged to help build up the local chapter. I accepted the role of  Chaper President. And now I see all that the ENA has to offer every emergency nurse in the world (because there are international members, believe it or not).

What's in it for me?

1) The first point of value came for me when I met other frustrated ED nurses. I suddenly realized I WAS NOT ALONE. There are many emergency departments facing the same issues. And there are lots of ideas out there to help nurses problem solve. There are TWENTY virtual communities to choose from in which members ask questions and share ideas, called Listservs My email is bursting with information and I only belong to one listserve.

2) The ENA also offers free CE's. Currently, there are nineteen courses offered--only to ENA members. And there are discounts for other learning programs, like the CEN prep class. Plus, there are academic scholarships and other educational opportunities to help nurses further their education.

3) But my favorite part of the ENA is the networking. Everyone talks about it, but until I started going to conferences I didn't exactly understand what it meant. I used to believe it was using someone to get what you want--a raise or a new job or promotion. But in reality, it's so much more. At the National Conference this month, I met more than one past ENA President. Each one of them shared valuable gems of leadership skill, and they probably don't even know it. I met people eager to mentor me, both inside the ENA and out. I found people willing to share protocols and policies they created. In short, I now have contacts in twelve hospitals in Massachusetts. So on the days where I feel scared or unsure, I can reach out to someone personally and be supported professionally. And don't we all need that sometimes?

I know I probably sound like a commercial for the ENA, but I am truly very proud to be a member in this organization. I finally see that my career does not end at the ambulance doors. My knowledge and skill does not have to die with me--I can leave a legacy if I spread my wings and try.  Nursing in the Emergency setting is a career, not just a job. And I am more glad than ever I chose this field.

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Where are you from? Were you in Nashville? What's your favorite ENA story?


Lorettajo Kapinos October 14, 2013 8:00 PM


A few years ago, I wanted to throw my nursing license in the fire and never care for another patient again. I experienced all of those things you described above in my eleven years as an ED staff nurse. I won't go into detail, because my previous blogs discuss it, but I do know burnout very well. I never expected to make it back to the happy side of nursing again. But I did, once I found my voice again. It didn't happen quickly and it took some hard changes, both externally and within myself. Though the ENA didn't "save" me from the abyss, a fellow colleague I met through the association did. And that's when I started to look at the whole thing in a different way.

I can tell you are very passionate nurse. I truly hope you can find your path back to happiness. I expect your story will be different from mine, but I'd like to hear more. Please scroll through some of  my other posts and comment there as well. And contact me if you would like.



Lorettajo Kapinos October 14, 2013 7:59 PM

Ah, Shelley, I feel so bad for you!  It sounds like you are totally burned out and feeling so alone.  I HAVE been a nurse (ER/Critical Care) for 36 years.  I AM a fulfilled, active member of ENA at both the local and state levels.  I got active about 5 years ago, when I was beginning to feel a great deal like you do now.  I cannot tell you what a difference it has made in how I feel about myself, the patients I see, and my colleagues.  Lorettajo nailed it!  I know of at least 20 people I can contact who know who I am that will help me with whatever issue I find is causing me problems.  I know where to find resources that will answer questions I have about practice and protocols.  I am considered an "expert" in my ER and frequently get asked by administration and my physician director "What does ENA say about this?"  And, I get so excited every year when it's time to get together with my ENA colleagues to share what the year has been like.  I hope that you will reconsider and, even if it is not ENA, explore the possibility that getting actively involved in your profession in some way.

Penny Blake October 2, 2013 2:18 PM

I appreciate all you have to say.  I feel in that there is no benefit in joining.   I don't see where there is any benefit to ER nurses.  When you have been a nurse for 20 yrs or more and you have a different perspective. We believe in being able to give THE best quality of care and supporting that pt with knowledge and experience.  We are continuously overloaded with pts.  There are many policies that do not support this.  I feel even being a new member to the Canadian ENA (previous member of the U.S. ENA.)does not support this.  The pts are impatient, they want the doctor, and when they are really sick they will suck the life out of you.  As an ER nurse, you will give your life and soul for that one trauma pt or that one that is dying.  Then you go home to your family or alone and are expected to be in the next day. Have you experienced that?  Maybe?  But not multiple times like those of us that are members or choose not to members of ENA we do.

Shelley October 2, 2013 12:07 PM

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