As a nursing student, I feel I have mentally prepared to function in emergency situations through my previous positions as a medicolegal death investigator and a simulation specialist. My work at a medical examiner’s office provided proximity to emergency situations through scene response, records reviews, and tending to grieving family members. I handled human remains, witnessed autopsies, and was around weapons and drugs at scenes. The aspects of the human condition that tend to make people uncomfortable became commonplace in my regular duties.
While employed at a simulations laboratory that served various medical programs, I had the opportunity to review mock code responses and participate in other simulated patient events. I watched a machine detect how deep CPR compressions must be for efficacious perfusion and practiced intubating manikins, which are lifelike human dummies used in simulated medical events. I was also part of a mass trauma enactment where patient actors wore makeup to depict serious injuries and near-death states.
Exposure to the aftermath of real-life emergencies as well as real-time educationally-manufactured scenarios allowed me opportunities to learn and witness how others might react during stressful medical events. Over time, I discovered how different life-saving treatments were administered, and that various outcomes were possible, including serious injury and death. It was beneficial to understand that not all efforts are successful, and there are often difficult circumstances to overcome. It was also enlightening to review metrics of what might be successful interventions, even if the scenarios were contrived.
My physical preparation to perform life-saving techniques on patients includes proper rest without reliance on over-caffeination, remaining physically fit, and eating a good diet. Shift work can be taxing on the body, and emergency situations lead to adrenaline rushes that become problematic over time. A healthy lifestyle can help offset the effects that are inherent to the profession.
In addition to being physically capable of handling difficult patient situations, mental fitness is also imperative. Remaining focused and committed to my education will help me to concentrate on my future work. As a student, I am acutely aware that the information I am learning is all important and might be directly applicable at some point during my career. While I recognize that learning a concept in the classroom is very different than applying it during life-saving efforts on a patient, good study habits help me to feel prepared for the types of incidents I may someday face.
If a student is feeling anxiety about a particular situation, they could take steps to become familiar with the details of similar circumstances. Watching medical response videos on YouTube, assessing crash carts for the location of supplies, or observing a rapid response would allow a learner to have some prior knowledge about how some emergencies are handled. Learners could also review different life-saving techniques like CPR, intubation, and emergency communication before participating in active life-saving efforts. Shadowing opportunities in different roles could also be beneficial so the student better understands what his or her role may be in an emergency. Awareness of how various practitioners function in their role can help with a student’s understanding of the team approach as a whole. Volunteering in a medical setting could also help a student to better prepare for various situations.
It might also be advantageous for individuals to practice reacting with a calm demeanor in other stressful work situations. Emergency medical care is often administered in the midst of a lot of chaos. Patients may be conscious and in pain, family members might panic, machines beep and alerts sound, and team members must communicate above the fray. By remaining composed, people may feel better prepared to be part of a team that performs the important work of saving a life.
While there are innate barriers to life-saving care, I believe that people who are interested in the medical field will discover ways to overcome them. I feel fortunate to have pursued other work that I feel has prepared me for some of the difficult circumstances I may face, and hope that I continue to discover other ways to equip myself to be the best provider possible. I am excited to deliver patient care with a more hands-on role, and look forward to earning my advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey to nursing school, and the different ways I feel that I have prepared myself for a future career in the medical field. I appreciate your consideration for this scholarship.