This essay is the winner of our 2017 ACLS Scholarship for Healthcare Providers and Crystal has been awarded the full scholarship prize.
The ACLS Scholarship for Health Care Providers specifically interests me because of my eleven years of providing health care in my field of Dental Hygiene, and my prior experiences in health care. To explain briefly about myself, I first received my CPR and BLS training when I was eleven years old, in my Safe Sitters babysitting preparation class. Next, I received my Certified Nursing Assistant CPR and BLS training while I was a Junior in High School. I worked in several health care settings including my home town hospital, urgent care and Nurse Practitioner’s office as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Upon receiving my Bachelors of Science in Dental Hygiene (2006), I joined my private practice dental office. I am now advancing my education with a Masters of Dental Hygiene. I want to teach and share my love of healthcare and dental hygiene with other students.
I am surrounded by patients every day with many different health compromises and lists of medications, whom may also have very intense fear and anxiety with the procedures we are performing. Every day, I need to be prepared for any BLS or CPR incident that may arise. I prepare myself and my practice with frequent, current and thorough training in BLS and CPR geared towards health care professionals. We use posters with concise and easy to understand references” C-A-B easy as 1-2-3”. Which stands for C -Chest compressions, A- airway, and B- Breathing. We also make sure we have the proper equipment on hand including a ambu bag and an AED.
When I am with a patient, I evaluate what type of medical emergency may arise. Every patient or person we are with may have a high or low risk of a medical emergency. In many healthcare settings, we have access to medical history and medication lists. This information provides us with knowledge that can help us prevent a medical emergency. Every patient I am with I asses their level of risk for a potential emergency. I prepare mentally and think about the situations that may increase the individuals risk. I also consider what type of emergency that patient may have. I think through what I would do if these emergencies took place. I also physically prepare by having medical equipment easy to get to. For a patient with a very high risk of medical emergency, I may discuss with my Dentist my concerns and let others know what the risk level is. If I need help, others are aware of the need for fast action. This is a way I prepare for a potential situation. For example, oxygen, AED, and/or ambu bag should be physically close by.
Mentally, I visualize a potential CPR or BLS situation. I visualize how I would react and what fears I may have. Through visualization, I confront my fears of CPR. I imagine myself calm and assertive in these hypothetical situations. I also repeat the steps of BLS and CPR in my mind. This is a technique for mental preparation. When medical emergencies happen my subconscious training kicks in and I am calm and feel more comfortable.
Not all potential medical emergencies happen in health care settings. Airports, shopping centers, schools, and populated areas, which most of us are surrounded by every day, will have a high risk for emergency situations. Just because I don’t work in the ER of a hospital, does not mean I don’t have the potential for an emergency. The best way to be prepared is confidence in training and skills. That means some of us may need more training or practice with information and skills. Some health care professionals may never assist someone or perform BLS or CPR in their lifetime. Taking that fact into consideration, some professionals not exposed to BLS or CPR events may need more frequent review of the physical skills and steps involved with BLS and CPR. It is very important to be prepared and informed.
The best advice I can give any health care provider is: be willing to use your training. Be confident! Mentally tell yourself “ I have the training to help this person.” Being hesitant, in the moment, could cost a patient vital oxygen and blood flow. The number one priority is chest compressions, do the best you can with counting and breathing; however, the compressions themselves are the most important! Do not consume yourself with the specific details of ratios. Another critical aspect of BLS and CPR is your own ability to perform the physical demand of the compressions and breathing. Always, always get help! Speak out to and receive help from other trained individuals and trade places! Do not try to be the sole hero. In the heat of the moment you will have adrenaline to help you, however, it will not sustain you. CPR is exhausting when done properly.
In conclusion, I believe that being educated about an individual’s risk of an emergency can help prevent one. However, in the event that you may need to perform BLS and CPR, ability and confidence are what will save a life. My love of health care and people has invested me in BLS and CPR for most of my life. I think that it should be taught to everyone at an early age because the more times you have training, the more confident you become. Learning can be through actual BLS and CPR events with patients in the health care field, or just by frequent and accessible information and training. None the less. you never know when these critical skills could save someone you come in contact with or someone you love. Get trained. Be confident. Save a life.