Luke Emerson is a healer by nature.
He lives to help people through dire straits. Working in trauma services, he sees the worst situations on a daily basis for the last five years at Kootenai Health. Whether it's a fall from a roof, a bad car accident, a fire or a shooting, Emerson feels the adrenaline rush every time a patient arrives.
“You definitely feel it and you just do your job,” said Emerson, a BSN, RN. “You treat everyone like this is your own mother or brother laying in that bed. You want to give them the best, most compassionate care possible.”
He has treated a wide array of traumas, including gunshot wounds, compound fractures, third-degree burns and severe lacerations. Seeing blood and guts doesn't faze him.
“My dad was a cop,” said Emerson. “Hearing all of his the stories growing up, I was prepared to deal with horrible things. The great thing about where I work is that I am surrounded by incredible doctors and nurses. We all support each other and we help get through the bad cases.”
The worst cases involve children.
“Being a father myself, the sounds of children crying in pain are the hardest to shake,” he said. “Or the screams from the parents who have just been told their child died. Those are really hard.”
Emerson is a clinical navigator for Trauma Services at Kootenai Health. That means he coordinates the care of traumatically injured patients who arrive at the Emergency Department through their discharge from the hospital.
“I am just part of an amazing team of medical professionals,” Emerson said. “My role is exciting because I get to follow people from their worst day in their life to recovery. Being able to see a patient through is very satisfying.”
Emerson is the first nurse in Idaho to be certified in care coordination and transition management by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board. This credential is a crucial validation of knowledge and expertise for nurses who practice in a care coordination and transition management role such as a clinical nurse navigator.
He recently was named the Certified Care Coordinator Transition Manager of the Year by the American Medical Surgical Nursing Board.
“I am just doing my job,” he said, deferring the praise to his fellow nurses and doctors. “It's an honor, but really anyone on our team could have won this award. I am lucky to work with such an amazing group of people.”
Born and raised in Oakland, Calif., Emerson graduated from Lewis-Clark State College in 2015 with a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Prior to that he earned an associate's degree from North Idaho College.
“Lewis-Clark State College really prepares you for your career,” he said. “Since I was the first clinical navigator in trauma services, I was able to map out my own job description. My education helped me do that effectively.”
Nursing is a field long dominated by women, although that's changing. Emerson doesn't give his gender a second thought, despite the fact only 13 percent of 888 nurses at Kootenai Health are men. Nationally, the average is lower at about nine percent.
“This is what I like to do,” he said. “If you're caring for somebody who has suffered a severe trauma, they don't care if you're male or female. Many times when I see the patients later as they recover, they don't even remember me being involved in the initial trauma resuscitation.”
Emerson says more men are entering the field, especially guys who previously worked in construction because their bodies break down from being outdoors so much.
“The job is great because it's so different every day,” he said. “I got into nursing because my brother fell out of a building down at the University of Idaho and broke his back. I saw how they treated him and I wanted that for a career.”
Nursing keeps Emerson busy. He's raising two of his three children as a single dad and recently he joined the Army Reserves as a First Lieutenant.
“It has always been a dream of mine. I truly wanted to serve my country,” he said. “'Helping the people who protect our country, well, there's nothing better than that.”
--Written by Marc Stewart, Director of Sponsored Content