This essay is the winner of our 2020 ACLS Scholarship for Healthcare Providers and Amber Rodriguez has been awarded the full scholarship prize.

submitted 2020-08-04

Amber's photo.

It is understood among caregivers in medical field that providing attentive, compassionate and effective treatment is crucial for the health of our patients. Having the honor of being so deeply involved in the community’s well-being is an undertaking that holds gratifying responsibility. This commitment involves having confidence in our training, which include skills that are necessary in a BLS or resuscitation event. Likewise, having fresh knowledge in this area is essential. When I took my first ALS/BLS course in 2015 the Finger Sweep Maneuver was still part of the curriculum. In 2017 studies were published with research finding that using this method in a choking event actually could cause more harm. I was informed of this change in my 2017 renewal class and was astounded that a technique we thought was helpful could actually become fatal. In my most recent class, asking relevant questions as an Emergency Department provider helped me have up-to-date expertise for this frequent situation that occurs in my profession. As a nursing assistant who has been in this vocation for five years, I have found that medical knowledge is always evolving. Thus, continuing education in the healthcare field is a standard and in this spirit I hope to pass on what I’ve learned to other students beginning their career.

Through my experience as an Emergency Room Technician and nursing student, I’ve found that self-care is a foundational factor that helps me perform well. When having a job that is immersed intensely in saving others’ lives, there are various circumstances I might find myself in. On any given shift limited staffing, high volume and/or critically sick patients are a potential. This may mean being on my feet for long periods of time, missing breaks and being a first responder to a traumatic crisis. Stress and burnout are common symptoms that an ER tech might experience during a shift due to the extreme nature of the everyday tasks. Self-care ensures that my physical and mental health is well-taken care of and this upkeep is especially useful during moments of high stress. Having optimal health reverberates into my performance as a caregiver. For example, staying fit through exercise means that I am in physical shape to administer correct compressions during CPR. Having an emotional outlet through therapy and meditation filters my own emotions, creating a greater capacity for my patients’ emotional needs. It keeps my mental state sharp and present in the moment when focusing on the training is the most important task at hand. In a best case ALS/BLS scenario, I have time to run through my tasks. This preparation includes being aware of the incoming patient’s condition, medications and code status which are all components that produce the best outcome. Mentally, I recall my training for appropriate depth and pace of compressions and remind myself to breathe deeply to stay calm through the inevitable adrenaline. I communicate and coordinate with my nurses so the team can function flawlessly. Physically, I gather all supplies necessary. Having the LifePak, suctioning, ambu bag, oxygen, vitals and EKG machine ready fast-tracks this time sensitive and critical care. I have found that using a CPR metronome timer app is helpful to keep compressors on course. In a clinical setting, this is the ideal place to perform life-saving care. However, in life this much preparation may not always be available. Emergencies happen whenever and wherever there are people; at the store, church, restaurants, recreational activities and at home. Consciously having a course of action ahead of time can be advantageous. In a public setting knowing where the AED is located, being aware of health conditions of the people you are with and keeping your cell phone handy are all ways to facilitate this predicament. At home having a kit containing items such as a blood pressure machine, scissors and medication lists of your family members can be helpful tools. Having a “cheat sheet” of ALS/BLS techniques can be also be a quick resource. Through education, training and holistic self-care we can reduce the impact of an emergent situation, both for the patient and the healthcare staff.

As an Emergency Room Technician, I am fortunate to have this current training and look forward to learning from the perspective of a nurse. Having such well-rounded insight as a part of the Emergency Department means that there is one more person out there that can proficiently deliver rescue care. A key aspect of this ability traces back to taking care of yourself. The classic saying in caregiving “if I can’t take care of myself, how can I take care of my patient?” holds true. It can be a reminder that being at your best enables you in giving excellent quality care to your patients. The ACLS Scholarship for Health Care Providers provides great insight and support for those entering the healthcare field and through this essay, allows me to communicate what I’ve learned to future professionals in this occupation.