EntertainmentInside Indy


What it takes to be a trauma nurse

Trauma Nurse Jennifer Burchett
Posted at 4:36 PM, Aug 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-18 11:29:37-04

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Indy has three level one trauma centers — Eskenazi Health, Saint Vincent on 86th and IU Health Methodist Hospital.

Those hospitals provide the highest level of trauma care to critically ill or injured patients. No matter the day, these medical professionals are the ones immediately working to save your life after a traumatic injury brings you to the hospital.

WRTV Anchor Megan Shinn is showing us what it takes to be a trauma nurse. When traumas come in, nurses jump into action.

Emergency trauma cases seem almost easy to anticipate, according to Registered Nurse Jennifer Burchett, based on what’s happening in the rest of the city.

“Definitely adrenaline kicks in. This is something that you train for. This is something that you prepare for and you’re trying to anticipate what’s going to happen," Burchett said.

Especially during the summer, level one trauma centers, like Methodist Hospital, can be flooded with trauma patients because people are going outside more.

“More actives, motorcycles, boats,” Burchett said.

Things like unhelmeted motorcycle accidents, car accidents and shootings happen year-round.

“It can be very stressful, but it’s a controlled chaos," Burchett said.

So, this trauma center’s got processes in place, but what does it take to be a trauma nurse?

Burchett has eight years of trauma nurse experience at Methodist alone. She says to become a trauma nurse in the emergency department, you need to complete nursing school.

You need a trauma nurse certification course and other online or hands on learning.

She says it takes about a-year-and-a-half to two years to become comfortable with the trauma role.

“We get used to this rhythm of how the day’s going to go,” Burchett said.

First things first, you have to suit up in Personal Protective Equipment like gloves and gowns.

Burchett says when it comes to gunshot wounds, EMS, Police, Fire and other first responders usually put Stop the Bleed kits on people. However, there’s an occasion they’ve had to use the kits, including a tourniquet, in the Trauma Center.

Shinn asked, “How soon should you put something like this on after?”

“As fast as you can," Burchett said.

She explained a trauma nurse’s main goal is to stabilize the patient so the team can get them to the next people who can treat them more, like a surgeon or other medical professionals.

It happens quickly.

“Sometimes as we’ve seen today, our patients were here for not even ten minutes and they were rolled to the OR (Operating room). So, we try to do as much as we can, as fast as we can, upon arrival.”

Next up, Burchett showed us how to use a chest tube.

It’s important to get it onto the patient quickly because if someone can’t breathe, then all other efforts to save their life won’t work.

Burchett says it’s all about anticipating people’s needs and working well under pressure. Also, the A, B, C’s of being a trauma nurse, which is airway, breath and cardiovascular circulation.

Everyone follows the same algorithm, but each nurse plays specific roles.

“Talk about it being kind of controlled chaos, there will be ten people in this room all trying to take care of one person,” Burchett said.

Knowing the equipment and space powers success in this job which helps save lives by stabilizing one Hoosier at a time.

If you want to learn more about becoming a trauma nurse, click here.

WRTV shares the stories behind Indy's many people, happenings, businesses, restaurants, and venues in the area.

Inside Indy

What is Inside Indy?

With Inside Indy, WRTV is hoping to bring you connection with your community, in-depth conversations, and hidden gems right in your city.

Send us a message!