As a current nursing student and from my work experience in a hospital setting, I have seen life-saving techniques performed. What was once a rarity in the emergency, CPR, would typically be performed for those who were impacted from a cardiac condition. That is not the case anymore. Not a shift goes by that there isn’t CPR performed. CPR is coupled with medications most often Narcan and Epinephrine and the use of the defibrillator. Emotions run high during and after the event no matter what the outcome. I have watched the strongest nurses and doctors become emotional and worn down. But, it always amazes me how they regain their composure and offer empathy and care to the next patient that rolls through and no one would ever know what they have just gone through. That was most apparent during the COVID-19 as people entered the emergency room alone and afraid and quickly decompensated. Heartfelt messages were exchanged through the phone or on a FaceTime call before they were quickly intubated. Emotional tiredness was evident among all. Paramedics, EMT, fire worked tirelessly caring for patients and still had to remain alert and ready for any disaster like a fire or accident.
As a nursing student I plan to take every opportunity to learn and observe. With each event there is a takeaway. I recognize what was done well and what was not. It is important to realize that no code can be done perfectly and there is always something that can be improved upon. From what I have observed communication and calmness is key. This is not only important when talking with the family member. But, it is vital when running the code. A well communicated and calm code has the chances for better outcomes. A disorganized code with no communication renders poor outcomes. A lead communicator is much like a cruise director and everyone in that room follows their lead.
In preparation for the days that I will be practicing as a registered nurse I plan to take the opportunity to gain the certifications available. ACLS, advanced cardiac life support, can enrich my technical level. By achieving this certification I would leverage the skills I need to conduct myself in a calm, communicative, professional manner in a code situation. In addition, the simulation lab at my school and hospital can help me cultivate my skills. This provides immersive learning. The simulation lab resembles a hospital unit and consists of realistic looking rooms, manikins and equipment. The purpose of the simulation lab is to allow learners to practice and develop clinical expertise without any risk of patient harm.
Lifesaving measures do not just impact the medical professional with physical fatigue. It can have a significant emotional fatigue impact. Debriefing, reflection and self – care are all important elements that must be incorporated into a medical professional’s job. Incorporation of these elements will work to prevent burnout and will work to ensure that they have job satisfaction and continue to grow and care for patients.
Ultimately, performing life saving techniques is part of the job and it is not an easy task. Not every scenario can be accounted for and emotions run high. No two scenarios will be alike. Maintaining a professional demeanor and always prioritizing that patient first and ensuring the highest level of quality, safe care to the patient will be what ultimately will reward me in the end.