I entered an Associate Degree in Nursing program at the age of forty. I was obsessed with learning everything set in front of me and would do research on my own. My motivation at the time was because as an older graduate entering the field, I knew that other healthcare professionals would look at me and assume I had numerous years in the field and should be knowledgeable in ways a new graduate might not be. My motivation was to preserve my pride. This desire for learning served me well, but for reasons quite different than what had motivated me. Upon graduation I began working in the Emergency Department of a small rural community. What I quickly learned was that my patients in their scared, anxiety filled emergent situations looked to me as a subject matter expert to answer their questions and explain what was happening in their lives. Physicians speak varying degrees of medically technical information to explain events to patients and families; however, after the physician leaves the room, they look to me for interpretation. Not because of my age or gender, but because I was their nurse. It has been at these moments that I have found the efforts of learning to be of greatest value; I transitioned my motivation for learning to be for the purpose of offering quality patient care and improving outcomes.
My next position was in a trauma facility where I experienced many patient codes or life altering situations related to trauma, sepsis, and comorbidities causing body system failures. Nurses were an extremely valued member of the team and responsible for recognizing early signs of patient decline. A nurse with a reflexive knowledge of BLS and ACLS protocols is the best resource a patient can have on their side. When in a code situation when every effort has been exhausted, before calling an end to life sustaining efforts, the physician will ask all the staff in the room if anyone has any other ideas of what can be done. It is at this point that a healthcare worker does not want to think to themselves “I don’t know” but rather to have a full understanding of all modalities that can be offered a patient. It helps with the mental aspects of coping with what has happened and creates longevity in a nurse’s career to go on and assist in saving numerous other lives if they can walk out of the room saying they know, not think, but know every effort was made. This concept of a full knowledge of BLS and ACLS protocols is vital when telling the family that an adult patient was resuscitated and when efforts were not successful. It feels exponentially more important to have an excellent understanding of PALS when approaching a parent about their child with unsuccessful life sustaining efforts or explaining what happened when successful.
At this point in my career, I am working with the Veteran’s Health Administration in a management role for the Emergency Department. There are many nurses that work in the Emergency Department as well as the rest of the hospital that have not been able to have the experiences I have been afforded to learn the importance of their knowledge of BLS and ACLS. The culture was that the physician should have the knowledge of these protocols and the nurses carry out orders; as it is a teaching hospital with many residents, this depth of experience is minimal with the physicians. I was an ACLS and PALS instructor and am currently a TNCC and ENPC instructor as well as hold my CEN certification. I have started efforts for a culture change to empower nursing to be a voice and subject matter experts in their efforts in BLS and ACLS situations. I have many ideas about how to influence the quality of BLS and ACLS offered the VA employees to improve patient outcomes; however, within the VA system the positions of policy making, influence, and being an agent of change require a master’s degree. If is for this purpose that I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Management at Western Governors University in their RN to Masters bridge program. Many of the nurses I work with have been there a long time but were not aware of the medical knowledge that they were lacking in the areas of life saving modalities. I have seen an awakening in their thirst for knowledge and am educating them in how to stay current in emergency medicine, particularly in how to identify crisis before it happens and being an active participant in emergent situations requiring ACLS knowledge. The ED nurses are the responders to codes and rapid responses for patients and visitors in need. We have started practicing mock exercises and debriefing for quality improvement with actual cases.
I am respectfully requesting to be considered for the ACLS Scholarship for Healthcare Providers to assist me in my pursuit of the education I need to increase my sphere of influence to promote a passion for the knowledge of lifesaving efforts in the area I am working and within the community I live.