Flashing red and blue lights accompanied by an alarming siren in the distance is signaled when the double doors of the emergency room burst open. Pushed by several nurses, doctors, and other medical staff, a lone hospital stretcher with a bloody, wounded patient flies through the medical center towards the doors to the operating room. This image is what generally comes to mind when you think about an emergency room. Many people believe that the hospital’s emergency room is a dark and scary place.
While this is true, the common misconception is that the emergency room is a place clear of humor, when in reality humor is present, even necessary, for many reasons. Many television shows, like the show ER, are based in the setting of the hospital’s emergency room.
Clearly, when you watch the show you can differentiate fact from fiction on what goes on in an actual emergency room versus what Hollywood incorporates into the show. For example, when watching one of these shows, one will notice that there is an emphasis placed on the relationships between the hospital’s staff, whereas in reality an emphasis is, obviously, placed on the individuals that need medical attention. Another emphasis is on humor and the comedy aspect of the show.
Although the humor aspect of these shows is exaggerated, that is not to say that there is no humor in the emergency room because that is far from the truth. When one thinks of the act of laughing, the emergency room rarely is a scene that pops into one’s head. Because of the nature of the emergency room and the clientele that require its services, humor is not commonly accepted in such a place.
Like a funeral home, an emergency room is a place where laughter and fun are generally not accepted, but unlike a funeral home, the ER is a much more stressful environment and requires release of built up tension through humor. Also, the workers who work in the emergency room, such as doctors, nurses, and other care providers, undergo rigorous training to become professionals in their careers, and are required to act accordingly. In the social worker’s training, emphasis is placed highly on professionalism and ethics. They are discouraged from letting their personal emotions escape their professional appearance and, instead, are instructed to remain contained and composed.
Their training also encourages them to keep a solemn tone and demeanor. Because of this, hospital humor is not a concept that many people believe exists. Although the facility and the faculty of the hospital do not appear to tolerate humor in the workplace, laughter and humor find their way into the establishment of the ER in various ways. The primary use of humor in the emergency room is to ease the tension that builds up. The emergency room is an extremely tense environment due to the nature of the patients’ injuries.
Tension is built up in many individuals, such as the patients, the family of the patients, and the hospital staff. Because of the large quantity of people in the emergency room at any given time, humor is a necessity for all individuals in the ER. The physical act of laughing relieves tension in the body and relaxes the muscles, as well as promotes a general sense of well-being in an individual. This is something that everyone in the hospital needs, from the family of the patient that is stressing due to the nature of their loved one, all the way to the doctors and surgeons performing the operations necessary to bring someone back to health.
Not only does humor alleviate tension, it makes working in the hospital easier. Humor alleviates the stress of the workers and creates a stronger hospital team out of the staff. With a stronger staff unit, the ER runs more smoothly and can treat the maximum number of patients that it can. By joking around, like giving nicknames to the regular patients and hospital staff and poking fun at the people they work with, the individuals who work in the hospital are more comfortable around each other, therefore leading to a stronger sense of solidarity amongst them.
Also, if an individual feels more comfortable in a certain environment, they will perform their tasks and duties more efficiently and effectively. Finally, humor keeps those that work in traumatic situations from becoming disheartened. Because of the nature of their work, most of the individuals that work in the ER have a high burnout rate. There are so many negative aspects of working in the ER that doctors and other workers cannot handle for an extended period of time. The anxieties due to the unknowns such as how many people will need medical attention, what the nature of their injuries are, etc. cause additional stress to an already stressful schedule.
Because accidents can happen at any time, ER workers have to work at night, which is unappealing to many. Because of these negative aspects, ER work is very difficult, and many people who work in this environment eventually want out. Humor lightens the blow of many of these negative aspects, and at least makes working in the hospital a little more bearable. Humor keeps hospital staff from physically becoming depressed. With the mass number of illness, surgery, and death that they are encompassed with, working in the hospital can wipe out one’s physical energy and mental state of well-being.
Humor offers a levity of the morose and depressing environment that they are surrounded by each day. The emergency room is not a room that people should take lightly. The very nature of its services that it provides to its clientele prove it to be a serious environment; nevertheless, humor can exist, and even be helpful, in an environment like this. Humor alleviates the tension of all the people in the emergency room, and it creates a stronger sense of family for the staff that work in the emergency room.
Finally, humor is what keeps the workers from becoming disheartened and depressed. With a little bit of laughter in the workplace, all the individuals that come into contact with the emergency room experience a lightened mood, even in the most awful situations. A little laughter is the best medicine, and this saying most certainly applies to the emergency room of a hospital. Works Cited Van Wormer, K. , and M. Boes. “HUMOR IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM: A Social Work Perspective. ” Welcome! Web. 23 Sept. 2011. <http://web. ebscohost. com. proxy. libraries. uc. edu/ehost/detail? [email protected]>.