Kathryn Babcock RN submitted 2020-08-29

The importance of preparation in providing life-saving care to patients

As a nurse, I have seen first-hand the benefits of competent Advanced Life Support and early intervention with life-saving measures. During my clinicals while an associate’s degree nursing student, I had the opportunity to participate in performing CPR on a patient during a code on a medical-surgical floor. The patient was hours away from being discharged after having joint replacement surgery when he began to not feel well and collapsed. His visitors activated the rapid response system and the healthcare team quickly responded. The team began the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) protocol and, after 45 minutes, the patient began breathing on his own and was transferred to the critical care unit. This man’s life could have been forever changed, or even ended, by his heart attack. But because of the quick and competent response of the healthcare team, utilizing ACLS protocol, he recovered with minimal effects.

It has been five years since I had the opportunity to be a part of saving this man’s life and I did not realize that one day I would be able to respond to similar, stressful situations with the same level-headedness and proficiency that I witnessed in that team. This has required much preparation on my part. Throughout my career in healthcare thus far, I have had the chance to work in several diverse areas of nursing. I began in long-term care, then transitioned into a wound care clinic, and am currently working as a registered nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit. In every situation, I have worked to prepare myself to give the best care to my patients. Whether that be performing a simple treatment or performing life-saving measures, preparation and competency can mean the difference between positive or negative outcomes, life or death.

This preparation has involved hours of life support training and a daily awareness of my surroundings. Throughout my workday, I make sure that I know where the crash carts and defibrillator are located. At the start of each shift I check the bag and mask at each bedside to ensure that it is functioning appropriately should it be needed. Before attending a delivery, I make sure that all equipment is ready and available should the infant require full resuscitation. I go through resuscitation protocol in my head and review algorithms and scenarios to mentally prepare myself so that I can provide the best care possible to my patient.

Communication among the team is a skill that is stressed through life support training. My coworkers and I have designated roles that we each know we will fill should the need for resuscitation arise. We discuss our roles, plan, and expectations prior to a delivery, communicate with closed loop communication during a resuscitation, and debrief on opportunities for improvement after the dust settles. When our team responds to a code in the birth center, I can trust that my coworkers and I will work together to create the best possible outcome for the patient. This trust is central to the workings of the team and comes from preparation both by the individual and as a group.

Continuing my education through pursuing my bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is yet another step in my personal and professional development. It is my aim that through what I am learning and experiencing in this program I can continue to develop my skills and form a more well-rounded view of the profession and providing care for patients. It is this care of people that drives what I do. The countless hours of preparation have given me confidence and competence that enables me to make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families.

This can be seen in a recent delivery that I attended. I was the attending NICU nurse for a “routine” c-section, when I was informed by the birth center nurse that the baby had a known cardiac defect prenatally. Given this new information, I assembled equipment to prepare for a more involved resuscitation and the team and I communicated on what steps we would take should the infant require increased help. After the infant was born, she required extensive resuscitation and insertion of a breathing tube due to the need for increased respiratory support. Having the necessary tools prepared ahead of time, communicating effectively as a team, and having protocols and algorithms to follow allowed us to provide effective, efficient care to this patient.

After the infant was stabilized, the physician simply stated, “Good job team, we made a difference in this patient’s life today”. This phrase has deeply impacted me. It is why we, as healthcare providers, do what we do. We study for hours on end, we obsess over algorithms, and prepare both mentally and physically. We do all of this, not for a simple paycheck or accolades, but for one purpose: so that one day, if the need should arise, we can make a difference in a patient’s life.