Q&A with Emergency Nurse Natasha Martin
Natasha Martin, MSN, APRN, FNP-C teaches pharmacology and critical care at Chamberlain’s Houston campus. She earned her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University as a family practice nurse practitioner.
What is your specialty?
My specialty is critical care, mainly emergency medicine. I received my advance practice licensure in family practice to be able to deliver the broad range of care, as we say, from the womb to the grave. I began my career with an associate’s degree in 2002 and went straight to work in the ER. After six years I transferred to the medical intensive care unit for a short period of time, and then found myself developing and running the rapid response team, which I did until my graduation as a nurse practitioner. Today, I am back in the emergency department as a nurse practitioner.
What drew you to that specialty? How did you get started in that area?
What drew me to critical care and especially emergency medicine was the excitement of never knowing what would come through the door next and the adrenalin that comes from knowing that I have a direct hand in possibly saving a person’s life. I got started in emergency medicine by being accepted into an internship.
Describe your work experience.
My work experience of practicing emergency medicine can be described as exhausting, sometimes frustrating, but of course exhilarating—from doing CPR when you first walk through the doors to delivering a baby in triage, or of course explaining to the trauma surgeon that, yes, he needs to come to the ER.
For you, what is the best part of your specialty? What is the biggest challenge?
The best part of emergency medicine is that you become a specialist in everything, because anything can walk through the door. It is fast paced, never boring and constant controlled chaos. However, the ER has several challenges, the biggest being the emotional toll it can have on a nurse—being happy, sad, tired and frustrated, all within the first hour of working, and knowing you have eleven more hours to go. Also, trying to find the time to eat and use the bathroom is really quite challenging.
Throughout your career, has there been a patient or a story that has stuck with you?
Since I have been involved in critical care for so long, most of my colleagues, and now my students, see me as a strong person with not as much sympathy as I probably used to have. But to this day I have a patient situation that sticks with me, and I tell it every time anyone asks if I have ever cried at work.
I had just finished my internship and was off orientation only four months, when a man carrying an infant walked into the ER and stated that there was something wrong with his wife. We brought his wife to my room, and two other nurses, an ED physician and I battled to save her life for over an hour, but we were unsuccessful. Since technically she was my patient, I had to go with the physician to inform the husband that we were unable to save his wife. When the physician spoke the words, the man stood up holding his five-day-old son and, with one tear falling from his eye, asked, “How will he ever know how wonderful his mother was?”
Of course, what do I do? I break down in tears and run to the bathroom. I stayed in the bathroom and continued to cry for fifteen minutes, asking myself if I can really do this job. After I blew my nose for the last time and the tears stopped, I looked in the mirror and said yes, because I may not have been able to save this patient, but there will be plenty I can save, and to this day over my 11 years the saves definitely outweigh the losses.
What would you say you’ve been most proud of in your career?
What I can say that I am most proud of in my career is continuing my education, and now being able to be a part of educating future nurses. Knowing that there is someone out there able to care, empathize, and be passionate about the profession of nursing because they learned it from me is more rewarding than words can describe.
What is your advice to students?
The best advice I can give to students is that becoming a nurse is a long, hard journey but, in the end, so rewarding in countless ways. Look deep inside yourself and find the true reason you want to become a nurse because the standard “I want to help people” can be a fleeting thought after some time in this career. Find your true interest and passion so that going to work will never feel like work!