Deborah Slover focuses on the immediate need of ER patients entering the emergency department at OU Health Edmond Medical Center.

by James Coburn – staff writer

Deborah Slover, RN, likes the fast-paced variety of patients she sees as a supervisor in the emergency department at OU Health Edmond Medical Center.
“I also like the fact that the care that we provide, the direction we can take — the patient gives us a lot of opportunities to make a positive impact on the patient,” Slover said.
Patients usually enter the ER feeling moderately sick to extremely ill. People injure themselves significantly at work and need immediate emergency care. Some patients feel out of place psychologically at the shock of being in sudden trauma. The nurses explain to them in detail what to expect in the ER.
The hospital receives quite a few helicopters for ICU admissions. OU Health Edmond Medical Center is a level 3 facility. However, the ER has received level 2 traumas.
“The biggest thing at that point is we stabilize them as fast as we can and transfer them out as quickly as possible,” Slover explained.
Nurses may intervene to help family members. (story continues below)


One of her patients was a child who lost his legs in an accident. They might make necessary phone calls to report when a child is being transferred to Children’s Hospital. Other children may need to be transported home from the hospital as well.
“Maybe it’s something as simple as getting the other children something to nibble on while they wait to get their minds off that situation,” Slover said. “So, we try to prepare them as much as we for the next step as much as possible. Sometimes it’s too much of an emergency and it just doesn’t happen.”
Being an emergency department nurse involves flexibility, she continued. What will happen in the ER at a given day is never set in stone because days change from minute to minute.
“You have to adapt to change very quickly, and you have to be open to that,” Slover said. “You have to be really open to constructive criticism whether it’s good feedback or bad feedback. You can’t take anything personally here. It’s a job — it’s not personal — it’s hard not to let your feelings get involved. You’ll get a lot of feedback from your coworkers or the doctor you’re working with. Your patients will have a lot to share with you also.”
ER nurses must act quickly and not be too task oriented with a check list because nothing is ever done in the same order every time an emergency occurs, Slover said. Every need is different. ER nurses are focused on the immediate emergency and less on previous medical history.
“We just need to fix what’s going on now, so you need to be pretty adaptable,” she said.
Slover joined OU Health Edmond Medical Center three years ago, but her career has not always served emergency nursing. Her skills have been tapped for everything from trauma, open heart surgery, travel nursing and as a flight nurse. She earned her associate degree at Rose State College in Midwest City and then earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at the University of Phoenix.
The training she received while working as a flight nurse helped change her mindset from thinking she needed to know everything wrong with a patient. It taught her to focus on the immediate concern.
Slover’s grandmother was a registered nurse and house supervisor in the emergency department of Integris Southwest Medical Center.
“One thing she said was the most important thing when I told her I wanted to go to nursing school, she said that I had to remember that the person I was taking care of may not be somebody that I know,” Slover said. “But that person is somebody’s father, somebody’s husband, brother or best friend. So, I needed to make sure I did my best to take care of that person regardless of what my affiliation was because somebody out their loved them as much as I would love that person if they were my family.”
When Slover was a 16-year-old her brother became very sick.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t survive,” she said. “He had an asthma attack. We didn’t know a lot about respiratory, especially an asthma attack at that time. I felt like the nursing staff didn’t do a good job explaining to my parents how detrimental the situation was at that time.”
Her experience motivated her to become a nurse to make that change for families coming to an ER with a sick loved one.
“It’s hard to give people bad news, but I think if you give people information up front about what’s going on, it’s easier for the family to make plans or accept what has happened instead of being in a massive state of shock 10 days after your initial event and you still don’t take your child home,” Slover explained.
Student nurses get a chance to see nursing in real time at OU Health Edmond Medical Center. They learn about various details impacting patient care.
The internship program is Slover’s most enjoyable aspect of her career.
“We’re basically walking them through the hands-on training,” she said.
The program also lets Slover know if she is not up to date with what the students are learning.
“I also like the opportunity to share with them the things to help them grow into the nurse that they want to be,” Slover said.
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