When it comes to providing competent patient care one of a health professional’s responsibilities is ensuring they are fit to practice. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Understanding your own health and reflecting on what health means to you is an important first step in recognizing how you will determine if you are fit to practice. I believe that fitness to practice can be categorized into physical health, mental health, and clinical knowledge. Outside of the clinical setting I prioritize my mental and physical health equally and understand health as a whole to be a balance of the two.
Upon graduation from my nursing degree, I am wanting to pursue a career in pediatrics. As a part of my unit training, I will be looking to complete a Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course. I recognize that being certified in this course is crucial to ensuring that I am preparing myself with appropriate clinical knowledge to provide safe and competent patient care. I have already participated in many Basic Life Support courses as well as a code blue simulation offered through my program. Maintaining updated certifications and continuing to stay informed on evidence-based best practice guidelines is one of the ways that I will uphold my fitness to practice.
Providing lifesaving support to a patient can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Understanding that how I treat my body outside of the clinical setting directly relates to my performance in the clinical setting will help me to maintain my mental and physical fitness to practice. Based on my experience performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a practice mannequin I know that it is a physically taxing skill. Keeping my body in good shape not only benefits myself but it also transfers over to my ability to perform safe and effective compressions. Maintaining a workout routine that involves weightlifting, cardiovascular endurance as well as functional training is the best way to ensure that my body is able to function to the best of its ability. In an emergency scenario, it is important to respond and act quickly. Running, moving equipment and possibly patients, standing for long periods of time or performing repetitive movements are all likely activities to occur. These are also all actives that an individual might find difficult to perform if they are not physically prepared. In addition to physical training, the body functions at its best when it is fuelled properly. Ensuring that my diet is rich in nutrients and foods that benefit my performance is also a priority. When working a twelve-hour hospital shift, I make sure to prepare food ahead of time that has high nutrient value and that I enjoy. This will benefit my performance throughout the shift making sure that I maintain energy levels and focus keeping me prepared for if an emergency situation occurs.
The third aspect of maintaining fitness to practice is checking up on your mental health. Mental health is equally as important as physical health and can impact your clinical performance just as significantly. Personally, I operate in the clinical setting based on the, “leave it at the door” mentality. When you arrive on shift your only responsibility now is to provide competent care to your patients. Allowing your own personal distractions to impact your ability to focus is robbing your patients of the quality care that they deserve. I do recognize how emotionally distressing it can be to have a patient decline to the point of requiring life saving measures. Having a clear mind can help with being present and able to make important clinical judgment calls in the moment. This can help save time as well as potentially prevent the question of, “what could I have done differently?” after the fact. Although I do not think we can ignore that it is natural to have these thoughts, knowing that I was appropriately mentally prepared may help to reduce these uneasy feelings.
In conclusion, working in health care is a very stressful profession. I believe that the stress can be mediated by appropriately preparing oneself for all predictable situations that may occur on shift including a scenario that involves life saving measures. My personal view of fitness to practice involves three key components: physical health, mental health, and clinical knowledge. It is the health care provider’s responsibility to ensure that they address each one of these components when determining their fitness to practice. Each individual is going to address these components in a way that feels right for them. Personally however, expectations that I hold for my own practice include ensuring that clinical knowledge is up to date, maintaining bodily health by engaging in daily physical activity and using food as fuel, as well as keeping my mental health in check by giving my full attention to my patients and leaving personal business outside the clinical setting.