My name is Brett Kotowski and I have been working in the healthcare field for about nine years. The experience I have obtained has been through several different jobs, to include being a medic in the US Army to a registered nurse on a Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I was in high school. That is when I decided that it would be best to join the military, to be able to obtain more direction. My father and brother had both served in the military and my brother was a combat medic. I remember him speaking so highly of his experiences, which is what led me to want to follow in his footsteps.
The healthcare field can be one of the most rewarding career fields, but it also comes at a high cost. It can be extremely stressful, especially in critical situations where one mistake could be detrimental to your patient’s wellbeing. This stress is unavoidable, yet there are ways to better manage it. It is true that it is impossible to be prepared for every situation you comes across, but it does not hurt to be the most prepared. I am currently certified in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Basic Life Support, as well as, many other healthcare related certifications. These courses are just one of the many tools that can help better prepare yourself for potential situations that you may encounter in the future. A course cannot teach you everything, but it can provide you with the building blocks you need to be successful. Experience will help you as you progress through your healthcare career, but you need to learn the basics from the classes first.
The classes have to be one of the biggest tools I use to be successful. I constantly review the material I acquired from having taken these courses, so that it stays relevant and easily accessible as I find myself in critical situations. It is important to reeducate yourself over the material and not just attend the class to knock of your two year commitment to stay certified. You also need to stay up to date on pertinent, evidence-based research over the techniques you have learned. Medicine is constantly changing and we need to be aware of what changes are occurring. Easy ways to stay in the loop include being involved in policy making, subscribing to a journal and being part of a healthcare organization. You do not have to do all of them, but it is important to stay up to date on what is going on and never stop learning.
I currently work as a registered nurse and most nurses do not work a typical nine to five, Monday to Friday schedule. Working as a nurse can leave you with times when you must work several days in row, which gives you periods with many days off. During those times of having periods off of work, I would get nervous about going back to work because these breaks caused me to judge my abilities. Anytime you do not do something for an extended time, you start to judge your ability to perform those tasks to your old standards. One way I combated these feelings, was by reviewing my ACLS and BLS handouts the day before heading back to work. This technique allowed me to be more mentally prepared for any critical, lifesaving intervention that may present itself in the work days to come. It allowed me to refocus my attention from my personal life back to my professional life, as I prepared for the work week ahead of me.
Being mentally prepared is only one facet of being fully equipped to handling stressful situations as you work in the healthcare field. Nurses tend to be on their feet quite often and can usually walk several miles each shift. This job is far more physically demanding than I previously had anticipated. Therefore, it is also very important to stay physically healthy as well. I do my best to stay physically healthy by exercising and being more conscientious as to what I am putting in my body. I spend countless hours as a nurse educating my patients on how they should manage their lifestyle, so it is important that I practice what I preach. Not to mention, being physically fit makes performing my job easier. It also helps during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a skill that you perform during a code. CPR is a basic task, yet it is extraordinarily physically draining. It’s effectiveness is based on how properly it is performed which can be impacted on one’s physical performance. This is why it is so imperative that one stays physically and mentally fit.
Hopefully, the information I presented will help guide individuals as they prepare themselves for a career in healthcare. Experiences will drive you through most of your career, just do not forget to continually build a solid foundation. Remember to work hard and strive to be the best at whatever path you choose to follow.