Wash. ER nurse juggles job with volunteer EMT role

Jodie Mason says her experience in EMS helps her in the ER and vice versa


Katie Fairbanks
The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Jodie Mason took a long path to get to her position as a registered nurse in PeaceHealth St. John's emergency department. But now that she’s found her “niche,” she said her experiences make her a better nurse.

“I feel really in my realm,” Mason said.

Mason is one of about 70 nurses in the hospital’s emergency department, where she has worked less than five years.

Her medical career began right after she graduated high school. During her senior year of high school, Mason, now 37, began working at a now-shuttered Cathlamet nursing home. After graduating in 2000, she worked there full time while becoming a certified nursing assistant.

In 2003, Mason became an emergency medical technician (EMT) and started nursing school at Lower Columbia College. While in school, she worked as as CNA at the Cathlamet nursing home and as a volunteer EMT with the Cathlamet Fire Department.

After graduating in 2008, Mason started as a registered nurse in the medical unit at St. John. About six years later, she moved to the emergency department.

Mason still lives in Cathlamet and volunteers as the Emergency Medical Services battalion chief. Mason said the experience was useful when she started in the emergency department.

“Having that background helped because I felt like when I’m in a critical situation was able to keep a cool head,” Mason said.

Being an emergency department nurse also helps Mason as an EMT, she said.

Although it can be difficult to juggle both positions, Mason said she really enjoys it. She said she recently had to respond to a call at midnight as an EMT, then show up at 7 a.m. for a 12-hour shift at the hospital.

“I have to manage time very well,” Mason said.

Her rural EMT background also helped Mason cope with the emotional intensity of the emergency room, she said.

Mason said one misconception about emergency department nurses is that they are jaded.

“We really do care,” she said. “We have a tremendous group of people who are super compassionate. Sometimes we have to hide our emotions and put on a strong face, but then sometimes we know that it’s okay to cry with them.”

An important factor in Mason handling her job at the hospital and role as an EMT is knowing when to take a step back. That can mean not taking overtime or leaning on her support system, she said.

“You have to take care of yourself,” she said.

Mason said the support of her coworkers also helps her get through bad situations.

“I feel like we’re a family,” she said. “It can be chaos and we’ll still get it done. We all love chaos and making sense out of chaos.”

Mason said she is currently working towards a masters degree in leadership in nursing management and is excited to continue her career.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said. “I encourage anyone to do it, and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay.”

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©2019 The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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