Profiles in Nursing

Denise King, President of the Emergency Nurses Association

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, PHN, BSN
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Emergency NurseDenise King loves emergency nursing. She’s spent most of her career working at it—at the bedside, in management, and as a consultant. Even after 19 years, it’s the challenge of emergency nursing that grabs her. The age mix, variety, and interaction with all kinds of people continually sustains her interest. Like many nurses, when job satisfaction wavered, King looked around and found a job that did capture her fancy. One of the great strengths of nursing is that we can have so many options, all the while remaining within our profession.

King also took advantage of some of the innovative approaches to nursing education that abound. For instance, her original nursing degree, obtained in 1984, is from an associate program at Riverside Community College in California. By 1994, she earned a BSN from Cal State Dominguez Hills (CSDH), taking classes through a nontraditional program and never setting foot on campus until graduation. Her MSN, again from CSDH, was granted in 2000, though she admits that this time around her effort did involve commuting.

Right now, King is hard at work serving as the 2008 president of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). It is a position that caused her to alter a long commitment as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve Nurse Corps to a still eager volunteer member of the Reserve after having served two years on active duty at the San Diego Naval Medical Center in Balboa. The travel and speaking obligations of the presidency make the office a demanding position, especially in conjunction with her work for Blue Jay Consulting, where she is working in New Mexico as the interim head of a hospital emergency department.

What kinds of issues face her as president? How does the organization hope to affect the care patients receive? King points out that, because it is a 501c3, the ENA does not lobby as intensively at the federal level as some other professional groups. Although the organization maintains a Washington presence, most work is focused at the state and local level through the committee and commission work of individual members and through research and education.

The ENA collaborates with medical associations, such as the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the American College of Emergency Physician, as each explores a more proactive relationship with the Joint Commission. Because the emergency department is part of a hospital and yet unlike all other parts, nurses confront distinctive challenges when it comes to meeting goals and standards set by the Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Denise King is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, and the National Nurse Staff Development Organization. After all, she has to save some of her commitments for the fourth shift!   

Elizabeth Hanink RN, BSN, PHN is a freelance writer with extensive hospital and community based nursing.

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