From broken wrists and abdominal pains to 'lots of lawn-mowered limbs' and gunshot victims, Nannette Doucette sees it all.

'We're kind of always juggling medical issues and emotional issues,' says Doucette, 32, an emergency department nurse at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Southwest Portland.

'You have to be a really good generalist, have a broad experience base, to know when to get excited and when not to,' Doucette says of emergency room work.

Doucette got her bachelor's degree in nursing in 1995 from the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, Minn., and worked for a Providence hospital in Anchorage before moving to Portland.

People often ask Doucette if her work resembles the frantic pace depicted in the 'ER' television series.

'No,' she says, 'because we're better organized, and because we're not a trauma center.'

Trauma cases are sent either to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center or Oregon Health & Science University Hospital. Still, with emergencies ranging from cuts and sprains to life-threatening conditions, the work is sobering.

Doucette, who practically vibrates with energy, says emergency room personnel often are 'adrenaline junkies,' with hobbies such as running or rock climbing. An active personal life helps relieve the job's stresses, she says.

She owns a motorcycle, a Honda Shadow Spirit 750, which she often rides to work from her Hillsboro home.

Dealing with life-and-death issues almost daily, Doucette says, 'you realize life is short. It makes you constantly re-evaluate your priorities.'

Doucette belongs to the Oregon Nurses Association, which represents 10,000 nurses in 56 Oregon hospitals.

'I'm not somebody who would advocate that everyone should belong to a union,' she says.

But this union, Doucette says, makes sure that nurses are well paid (she makes $25.76 an hour), and she likes that it maintains quality patient care through adequate staffing levels.

'Being in the union is a measure of extra insurance,' she says. 'You need to have that voice.'

Ñ Mary Bellotti

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