Nursing 101 – Staying Focused

Tips for Nurses: How to Stay Calm and Focused during an Emergency or When Giving CPR

Whether you are a nurse who is just beginning your career or have several years, experience, you can become nervous if you need to administer CPR or manage an emergency. How you respond depends on the place where you work, the frequency of code blues, or other emergent circumstances. To perform your best, however, it is vital that you remain calm, regardless of the situation.

Do You Know Where Everything Is?

During any patient emergency, or when the need arises for administering CPR or employing defibrillation, it is essential that you know the placement of the equipment. By scheduling code cart checks, you can further familiarize yourself with all the life saving devices. If you have some free time, or before you begin your shift, check the location of the code cart as well as the ambu bag and oxygen tank.

Make Sure You Are Well Organized

You might also think about creating a diagram of drawer items so you can easily find the supplies and meds you need during an emergency. Laminate your chart so you can keep it intact. Also, check the resuscitation medicines and doses as part of your regular routine. The whole key to handling any emergency situation is to be prepared. When you are prepared, you will feel less anxious and be more valuable to the healthcare team.

Never Apologize When a Patient’s Life Is at Stake

Also, during an emergency, it is better to press the button for help sooner than later. Never apologize if you feel the need to call a code, even if the patient stabilizes during resuscitation. Nurses need to record pateints’ vital signs and administer IVs when resuscitation becomes a priority. It is also important to have the fluids, meds, and defibrillator ready to administer and use.

Is the Patient Breathing

Check the pulse. Is the patient breathing? Is he or she responsive? If the answers to any these questions is “no,” compressions and respiratory assistance (CPR) is necessary while more advanced resuscitation techniques and items are prepped.

Acquainting Yourself with the Defibrillator

While using a defibrillator can, at first, seem rather challenging, its use in ventricular fibrillation induced (VF) cardiac arrests is crucial to a patient’s survival. You should consider the defibrillator as a comforting companion – a device that you can easily check, set up and dial the correct jules when in use.


What Are Your Strengths?

Make sure you focus on your strengths as part of the emergency response team. That means filling out the code document form and using it if you are good at recording or drawing up and administering meds if that is your strong suit.

Closed-loop Communications

It also helps, when working as part of an emergency team to engage in closed-loop communications. This form of communications ensures that each health care member knows what he or she is being requested to perform and who is doing a specific task.

An Example

This can help in particularly high-stress, fast paced circumstances. For instance, if someone asks you to get an epi, you acknowledge that you are getting the epi. This type of cooperation can do a lot towards calming the situation and keeping everyone on track.

Staying in Practice

To stay prepped for emergencies, it never hurts for nurses to reacquaint themselves with training, such as basic life support (BLS) methods or adult advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS), or to practice resuscitation or CPR skills with other members of the team.

Prepping Yourself for an Emergency

Scheduling team sessions where each member can practice can be invaluable. Rehearsing a code mentally, as well, will keep each member’s skills up-to-date and increase the level of comfort when an emergency actually occurs.

Ask Questions – Even Seemingly Obvious Ones

One of the vital things to do in an emergency is to ask questions – never assume. For example, if a code is happening, you may wonder mentally if anyone did a certain task. Everyone seems to be in control at the moment, so you reason that the activity has been performed. Even if an inquiry may seem obvious, you should still ask the question.

Never Assume

First responders, regardless of their skill level, may not reason objectively. For example, if a patient, who is being prepped for surgery seems overmedicated, he or she may, instead, be hypoglycemic. Therefore, never assume. Again, ask questions, even if you think the answer may seem apparent. You have to review all angles of a situation.

Debriefings – Why They Are Important

A debriefing should always follow a code. This gives each member of the team a chance to discuss the positive and negative activities than went on during an emergency. For example, you may want to ask if the communication was clear enough or transparent? Was a certain sign not identified early enough?

A Chance to Improve on What You Already Know

On the other hand, you may want to note that responses were immediate and early defibrillation was achieved with success. A debriefing or evaluation gives each emergency team member an opportunity to review an emergency so any communications or behaviors can be improved during future emergencies.

Stay Focused and Work with the Healthcare Team

It is normal to become nervous during any emergency situation, or when a patient’s condition becomes life-threatening. The key is to keep breathing, stay focused, and work with the team. Being prepared will help you do a better job as a health care provider and member of an emergency response team.

Keep Current on CPR Procedures and the Use of Defibrillation Equipment

That is why updating your resuscitation skills is vital to your success as a health care worker. Keep up-to-date on the latest trends in CPR or defibrillation equipment. Keeping current will enable you to increase you confidence level and provide a higher level of care for your patients. It will also assist you in your career and increase your credibility as a member of the medical team.







Donna Ryan
Donna Ryan is a writer and editor with extensive writing and editing experience. She has covered subjects, such as health and fitness, home and gardening, technology, travel, business, and general news content. She is also an award-winning poet. You can send her a message by visiting