How to Cope with Your First Code

online rn to bsn

Managing trauma effectively can keep you on the job longer

The life of a nurse in an emergency or trauma unit is unpredictable and can be stressful, especially for new nurses. In these units, you never know what medical emergency will come up that you will be called on to assist with throughout any given day. Some of these emergencies can be life or death, creating some tense situations for new nurses. Managing trauma effectively is important to not only quality patient care but your resilience in the field. Registered nurses seeking additional education and credentials to gain needed skills to work in emergency or trauma units should consider earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). RN to BSN online courses take a more intensive approach to medical care, giving BSN-prepared nurses the skills needed to excel in emergency medical situations.

Dealing with your first Code Blue (or Condition A) can be scary and extremely stressful. However, effective internal and external coping mechanisms can make it easier to overcome stress and elevate your level of patient care in the emergency setting.

Remember Your Basic Life Support Skills

New nurses may feel overwhelmed or underprepared to take control of the situation and administer care during a Condition A. Instead, you may sit on the sidelines waiting for the more seasoned medical professionals to take control of the emergency. However, every second counts during a Code Blue. Don’t waste precious moments questioning your ability to step in and step up.

Remember that your training and education have prepared you for this moment and have confidence that you are capable of managing these types of situations. Every nurse is trained in basic life support (BLS) techniques during their BSN program, and nurses who provide bedside patient care are required to keep these skills up to date. Use your BSL skills at the onset of a Code Blue to assist in the overall resuscitation effort of a patient.

Know Your Role and Don’t Hesitate

Most emergency or trauma units have established action plans for a Code Blue. These action plans have been tested and are designed for the utmost effectiveness in the particular medical setting. Most plans entail an all hands-on staff approach with each medical professional, including nurses, orderlies and physicians, with each having a specific role for a successful patient outcome. Study your facility’s Code Blue plan, identify your role and understand how your role fits into the big picture. Many jobs, especially the responsibilities of the physician, are dependent on the successful completion of BLS and preliminary duties by the on-staff nurses; be prepared to step in and take action fast.

Seek Support after Trauma

It is okay for nurses to feel overwhelmed or distressed by the traumatic events that occur daily in an emergency setting. Don’t let those feelings fester. Doing so could affect your longevity in the nursing field. Debra Hanna, RN and PhD, notes in a 2002 study on moral distress in high-stress medical situations that nurses who experience moral distress in their work setting without getting support aren’t as easily able to process the experience and can take longer than a year to resolve internal issues and feelings of distress.

All medical facilities should offer debriefing services that allow emergency medical professionals to address their feelings and concerns following trauma. If such services aren’t presented to you, seek them out after a traumatic event. You may feel comforted by talking to peers or you may be in need of more comprehensive counseling services that should be made available through your medical facility. Some medical facilities will offer peer group counseling sessions that consist of several medical professionals talking to a counselor or therapist about on-duty experiences and feelings. These conversations can help you work through feelings of stress and discontent and get you back to the job you love.

It is common for new nurses to feel overwhelmed or stressed by Code Blue situations while on duty. However, it is vital that you don’t sit back and wait for others to handle the situation. Doing so could be the difference between life and death. Remember that you are trained and prepared to assist in medical emergencies. Know your role in your facility’s emergency plan and don’t hesitate to take action. Seek the support of a professional if feelings of stress or anxiety are too overwhelming. Counseling or peer support can help you deal with the event and keep you on the job.