I have been a nurse for 5 years with critical care experience in both neonates and adults and I remember the first time I had to perform life saving measures for a patient whose heart stopped. It was one of the most terrifying moments in my life. Unfortunately, that patient did not survive, but from that moment on, I began training myself ways to be mentally and physically prepped for any situation similar. One must remember that preparedness is an ongoing process, so staying current with training and guidelines is essential in the field of healthcare since it is constantly evolving and changing. So here are some tips I use to this day to keep my prepared:
- Ensure that you have received proper training in life-saving techniques, including CPR, the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and other relevant procedures and do not be afraid to ask questions!
- Develop critical thinking skills to quickly assess situations, prioritize tasks, and make decisions under pressure. This does take time as you get more experience, but always try to discover the “why” and “what to expect” when dealing with patients, such as “why would the ABG look like this in my COPD patient, what can I expect?
- Mentally rehearse different scenarios in which life-saving interventions might be necessary. Visualize yourself responding calmly and effectively in each situation.
- Practice stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation, to help manage anxiety and maintain focus during emergencies.
- Work on effective communication skills, as clear and concise communication is crucial in emergency situations. Practice using closed-loop communication to ensure messages are received and understood.
- Recognize and manage your emotions. Working in high-pressure situations can be emotionally challenging, so it’s important to develop resilience and coping strategies.
- Engage in regular mock drills and simulations to practice and enhance your response to emergencies. This is extremely helpful because the more you engage, the more you will learn.
- Seeking support from colleagues and debriefing after critical incidents can help process emotions and further enhance your preparedness for future situations. If a situation is traumatic to you, it is ok to cry and let those emotions out. We are human.