I can feel my heartbeat pounding within my chest, as my hands clenched the paperwork filled with information about the patient in front of me. What was the last medication they took? How did this happen? My mind went in what felt like to be a million different directions. Doctors, nurses, technicians, respiratory therapists, and a bunch of other people I did not recognize filled the room. I got pushed to the side, almost out the door. I suppose a nursing student is the least important person in the room right now. I peered over the shoulders of the team members trying to get a glimpse of what is happening. Two doctors bounced ideas off each other and raised their voices when their opinions weren’t taken into consideration. Another doctor rushed to put orders in the computer as the others called them out. What an organized chaos this seemed to be!
“Get potassium IV from the medication room!” one doctor yelled, looking me right in the eye. I turned to leave the room, forgetting that I had no idea where to even begin looking for that. I grabbed the only nurse I could find on the floor and told her what he asked. She half-smiled at my confusion, brought me into the medication room, and handed me what I needed. When I returned, I passed the bag of medication up a line of people until it reached to appropriate nurse. I felt accomplished, but my heart was still pounding out of my chest and my hands were trembling. One question rang in my mind: did they bring him back? All I could see through the crowd was blood on the floor. Someone informed me they had to put the IV in through the leg and there was a lot of blood from that. I was beginning to get frustrated because I could no longer see over people’s shoulders. Finally I gave up, rolled my eyes, and went to go to the next room to finish checking vital signs like I was originally doing. As I turned, there was an elderly woman and a younger gentleman standing behind me hysterically crying. That must be the family. My mind went blank. I put my hand on the woman’s shoulder and sat with her and her son until the doctor came out to talk to her and the rest of the team dispersed in different directions to complete their tasks for the day.
Every time I think of that story, I can feel my chest get tighter and my hands start trembling. It was my first code blue I have ever seen, and a lot of feelings went through me in such a short amount of time. I was definitely surprised at the different roles everyone takes and how everything looked so chaotic, but also organized. This was the definition of a team working together to figure out the best way to handle the situation. There was a lot of things that I can look back at and question. Should there have been some type of communication that said I was unable to get the medication? Should the doctors have communicated better on who was leading the code before they began calling out orders? Should there have been someone to meet the family so they did not see the room in which their loved one had passed away? These are things that I really had to reflect on.
My advice for other nursing students would be that there are times that you are going to feel like “just a student.” There are going to be times when you don’t know all the answers or where to go. Knowing this will help you to know that there are times when you have to ask questions or ask for help. There is never a stupid question. There are also going to be other times when you feel on top of the world because you did know the answer, or you did understand the disease process that patient was going through. Cherish these times, but never beat yourself up for the questions you can’t answer either. Performing life saving techniques can be terrifying, but is definitely rewarding in the end. Even if the techniques were not successful, there is still reward in the end knowing you did everything you could do. In situations where there is an emergency, my advice would be to keep your ears open, and get ready for anything that they might throw at you. Be ready to be a recorder, a runner, the one doing the compressions, or whoever they might need. In these stressful situations, the best thing to remember would be to work as a team.
All in all, I would say that other nursing students could really benefit from understanding basic life support and understanding there are a lot of emotions that come along with this job. There are going to be a lot of times when you’re stressed and don’t know how you’re going to make it through the rest of your shift. In these times, it’s most important to give yourself a break and destress. Just remember that the rewarding times do come, and they make the stressful times worth it. Being a nurse is a dream of mine because helping people is what I strive for most. I believe the reward will always outweigh the stress, and I hope to help the nursing students I will come in contact with throughout my career also believe this.