As all our registered agency nurses know, you don’t need to work in A&E to encounter an emergency. Unexpected and crisis situations can happen on any ward, at any time, and can prove daunting for even the most experienced nurse. For a newly qualified nurse or an agency nurse finding their feet within a new team, an emergency can be particularly difficult to manage.
But the good news is you can ‘learn’ to handle an emergency with the right preparation and techniques, as well as faith in your nursing skills. Here are our tips for keeping calm under pressure – read on!
1. Think ahead.
By being one step ahead and developing clear procedures, you’ll be able to react immediately when the worst happens. Agency nurses, by nature, often work in unfamiliar locations, so get into the habit of finding out where vital equipment and medicines are kept as soon as you arrive. Identify managers and senior nurses – and listen to them.
2. Stay calm.
This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to catastrophise or second guess what might happen next and lose focus. Concentrate on the now; going to work armed with a toolkit of calming techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, can really help here. Which brings us back to point one, above, and being prepared. With regular practise outside of work, they will be second nature when an emergency occurs.
Respond to the patient if he or she is conscious. However you’re feeling, their panic levels will be higher, so talk to them calmly. Never raise your voice to them and try also to keep your voice calm when interacting with colleagues – don’t shout. Where possible, talk the patient through what is happening. Use their name if you can, and tell them yours.
4. Go back to basics.
This is another one that sounds self-evident, but using simple acronyms or mantras can help you focus. Remember ABC – airways, breathing, circulation – and keep checking vital signs. If you’re working in a team, play to your strengths wherever possible.
5. Trust your instincts.
Yes, you will have a procedure to follow but don’t become too caught up in giving a textbook response. Remember you have had all the nursing training you need to handle this, so believe in yourself – you’re the best person for the situation!
After every emergency, go over the situation afterwards either independently or with the team. Could the incident have been predicted? Could you have done anything differently? Remember to praise yourself; whatever the outcome, you did your best and gave the patient the best possible chance of survival and recovery.
Our agency nursing blog has a series of ‘how to’ articles, including achieving a work-life balance and time management tips. Have a browse and discover the benefits of being on the Richmond Nursing team!