For Andrea, Emergency Care is a Calling

Jul 11 2023

Andrea Burkholder, charge nurse in the emergency department at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center, recently celebrated 34 years with our ministry! She first joined as a nurse tech in 1989 and has been with our health system ever since.

Andrea moved into emergency care after spending her first few years in orthopedics. She initially thought she would work in the emergency department for only a few years, soak up as much as she could and then transition to learn in another area of the hospital.

However, after nearly 30 years, she is still working in the emergency department – now as the charge nurse.

“The environment in the emergency department is one that fosters continual learning,” Andrea shares. “It’s work that encourages you to keep growing, stay on top of the latest news and teaches you something every day.”

While no two days in emergency care are ever alike for Andrea, she often begins her day checking in on patients and making sure her team is set for the day. From there, the flow of her shift is usually determined by what’s happening in the department that day.

Whether there’s a new trauma patient, a code or someone with a chronic illness comes in, you would likely find Andrea checking on a patient’s family, working with housekeeping to make sure a room is ready, connecting with the appropriate physician or rounding to help support her nursing team.

“I try to make sure all the pieces of the emergency department are working together based on what’s happening in that moment,” Andrea explains. “We’re all part of the same team and I feel like, as charge nurse, that’s how I can be there for our staff and help make sure our patients have a positive experience.”

Knowing that the team pulled together and, collectively, did all they could for their patients – even if it’s a hard day – is what Andrea believes makes a difference.

Her favorite aspect about being in emergency care is the people, which includes the staff she works with every day as well as the patients she sees. The most challenging part for Andrea is the realization that there are times when they can’t fix everything for everyone.

“I love helping people, whether that means working with patients in the emergency room or helping with barriers they may face with the pharmacy when getting prescriptions filled,” Andrea shares. “My goal is to make things easier for our patients when they need it most. However, sometimes, there are situations where we wish we could do more and it’s just simply beyond our control.”

As charge nurse, Andrea often walks through the lobby or rounds on the floor to check on patients or talk to families with loved ones in the emergency department. There is a young girl, who frequently visited the emergency department because of a chronic illness, and her family that stand out to Andrea.

“I got to know her and her family from the time she spent with us and then, when she was a teenager, the young girl came in as a code and ultimately didn’t make it. You see people come in and leave the emergency department every day, but there are some situations that can make your heart hurt and that was one of those situations for me.”

Andrea believes that if you are passionate about emergency care, there are endless opportunities to learn, grow and connect every day – even if there can be tough moments or a lot happening at times.

She knew from a young age this is what she was meant to do. Andrea was inspired by her grandma, who was also a nurse. And, although she passed away when Andrea was 5 years old, she received her grandma’s nursing pin when she became a nurse. In a way, it keeps her grandma with her each day in the emergency department.

“I really feel like this is what I am called to do and am grateful to work for a health system where the core values reflect my personal values and show up in what I do every day.”

Learn about the emergency and urgent care services we provide at Mercy Health.

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