Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Michael Allen

Committee Member

Muge Akpinar-Elci

Committee Member

Rob Cramer


Healthcare providers in emergency departments (EDs) face a daunting daily task: providing health care in a triage setting to a diverse group of patients many with complex medical issues. Many patients rely on ED services out of financial necessity, when their healthcare issues could be better suited for care from a primary care physician. Many of these already vulnerable patients – minorities, those health illiterate, low-income, uninsured and those with language barriers – must also deal with ED overcrowding and staffing conditions. In some cases, patients leave without being seen while others face bed shortages. This study explores healthcare provider experiences and highlights some of the challenges of health care in the ED. This study also provides insight into possible interventions designed to better address the needs of ED patients. Through the use of a questionnaire, this study relays the experiences of 27 professionals who have worked in EDs the Hampton Roads area. While heart attacks, breathing problems, and trauma comprise the most common diagnoses and treatments cited by questionnaire respondents, this study found that overcrowding, long wait times, and staffing shortages were the biggest challenges that regional ED staffs faced. Caregivers surveyed in the study suggested that increased staffing, more beds, better transportation and more diligence in following up with patients could improve conditions in emergency departments.


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