As an intensive care unit nurse, performing life saving measures is an everyday task. Not only is it emotionally deteriorating but it is physically exhausting. Furthering my education as a nurse anesthetist means recognizing and initiating life saving measures seamlessly in the operating room setting. When a patient heart stops and they require life saving measures, the nurse becomes responsible for reviving the life of that individual. Initiating life saving measures is a mental stressor that most individuals do not deal with on a day-to-day basis. As healthcare providers, we have to be ready at the drop of a dime to possibly lose a patient as well as resuscitate one. Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.
As a nurse, I remind myself why I do what I do. I always keep the patient and their desires at the forefront of my care and mentally hone in on the task at hand. With every compression, I remind myself that this patient has a family, friends, responsibilities, and to someone, this person means something. Mental preparation before life saving techniques involves reducing obstacles, avoiding, and responding to the situation at hand.
Denial is an obstacle and an enemy of preparation. Denying the realities of the circumstances and avoiding the severity of the condition, impedes on one’s ability to respond to it properly and effectively. Denial is dangerous and often leaves healthcare providers blind-sided in the midst of chaos. You do not prepare to fail, you fail to prepare. I expect the worst and hope for the best and set forth a plan of what I will do when life saving measures are needed. Overcoming denial and beginning preparation is the initial step in my mental preparation.
Being proactive and avoiding the necessity to initiate life saving measures is key. Sometimes, we do not have this luxury. Avoidance involves asking yourself “what could happen?” and “how can I avoid this?” Personally, I prepare to respond, not react. When healthcare providers react to a situation, they are often uncomfortable with the circumstances and emotions play a central role; this is disastrous in a situation requiring the resuscitation of one’s life. When a healthcare provider responds to a situation, logic plays a central role. Confidence without ability is dangerous and results in subpar performance during life savings measures. Proper mental preparation not only benefits you but could be the primary factor in saving a patient’s life.
Initiating life saving measures is not only about mental preparation but physical preparation. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a tasking job requiring the deep compression of a chest at a minimum of 100 compressions a minute. As a healthcare provider, we must be at our best physical performance to be there for our patients when they are not at theirs. Being fit for duty and trained properly is key to physical preparation prior to performing life saving measures.
As healthcare providers, our own health often becomes second priority. Being fit for duty includes proper nutrition, conditioning, and training that could benefit us when performing life saving measures. A balanced diet is key to fueling my body for performance. Conditioning and training comes in a close second; this includes training my body during off time to optimally perform when my patients needs it most.
Training to perform life saving measures is not limited to the refresher courses required every two years. I go the gym on a daily basis to ensure that I am fit for duty and able to effectively complete the task at hand. Patients depend on me to respond when life or death circumstance arise; it is our duty as healthcare providers to be prepared to function at our best.
There is no limit to the number of ways a nurse can save a patient’s life. Being a nurse is a full-time job and can be as stressful as it is rewarding. We face people dealing with life or death circumstances on a daily basis and it is our duty as health care providers to respond with efficacy and poise. I prepare myself both mentally and physically to optimize my performance and ensure that I can bring everything I can each resuscitation attempt. We often fall into ritualistic techniques when initiating life saving measures. While these resuscitation attempts often flow seamlessly, we must remember that at the end of the day these are human lives at the palms of our hands. Lack of preparation affects not only you as the healthcare provider but more importantly the patient, and in terms of life or death circumstances, this is crucial.