top takeaways from this conversation
- The stakes of a life-or-death Code Blue event can be stressful for any responder, but especially for newly licensed nurses experiencing a Code Blue for the first time.
- Learning the equipment beforehand, gaining experience, utilizing technology, and prioritizing teamwork can help new nurses bridge the gap from training to real events.
Code Blue events bring a new meaning to the concept of “a team effort.” When a code is called, a patient’s life is — quite literally — in the hands of the clinicians who respond. And to make matters more complex, code teams are often composed of clinicians from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines who may not routinely work together — except to collaborate on infrequent, unplanned, and high-stakes emergency events.
That’s the inspiration behind our Resuscitation Perspectives series, where we interview different members of Code Blue teams to better understand their role and impact in resuscitation response. And while our interviewees preferred to remain anonymous for privacy, we know their insights will resonate and inform readers across all Code Blue roles — from nurses and physicians to patients and families.
Resuscitation role spotlight: New nurse
If you’re following our Resuscitation Perspectives interview series, you’ve already gleaned valuable insights from a long-time nurse with years of Code Blue experience and a nurse who recently transitioned to the Labor & Delivery unit.
Next up: What about the perspective of newly minted nurses, fresh off orientation and facing the challenge of applying what they’ve learned in school to a real-life event?
Here, we speak with a newly licensed nurse who just graduated from nursing school and started her first position. She offers her take on what resuscitation training in nursing school looked like, and how she plans to translate that training into practice at her first job.
Resuscitation training in nursing school
I learned about cardiac arrest in nursing school during simulation, and we ran through so many scenarios to start compressions and use the defibrillator immediately. It’s overwhelming to think about doing that on top of everything else I have to do with a full patient load. But I’m hoping that with all the information I’ve learned and the practice I’ve gotten in simulation, I’ll be able to take all of that and actually execute it during events to help my patients when they need it most.
Translating training to real-life events
Learn the equipment and gain exposure
I want to make sure that I learn the equipment really well. I plan to let the charge nurses know if they are going to perform cart checks, I want to go through it with them. I also want to be a part of every code that I can be. Of course, I know that we need to be mindful of the other patients on the units that need help outside of that event, but I am hoping to push myself and get into those scenarios so I can gain some experience and feel more confident when it happens to my patient.
I’ve learned about mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how it helps us give better compressions to our patients. I’m hoping that it’s available on every unit of the hospital, or on every code cart, instead of having to be brought to us. I’m grateful we have this option at our hospital, but I would like to have it the moment we need it — and just skip manual compressions altogether.
Understand the value of teamwork
As long as I do what I learned in school and in my orientation — performing high-quality CPR immediately and defibrillating my patients early — I will feel good about what I have done to help save them. I know that there are other things that need to happen, like getting the bed in good placement, managing the airway, and preparing medications. But I hope that the other nurses and I can work well as a team and do what is best for our patients every time, so we can ultimately help them survive the event and get home.
Our top takeaway from this interview: Participating in your first-ever Code Blue event is stressful, but new nurses are up for the challenge.
Below, we summarized some tips for making the transition easier, whether you’re a new nurse yourself or a more experienced nurse helping to integrate newer members to the team.
For newer nurses:
- Get involved. Learn the equipment inside and out, ask questions of more experienced nurses, and look for opportunities to participate in Code Blue events. These experiences will start to build on each other and increase your confidence and skillset over time.
- Focus on what you can do. As we learned in our interview with a Labor & Delivery nurse, it can be daunting to think of all the things that need to be done in a Code Blue event — especially if you have limited real-world experience. Avoid these feelings of overwhelm by focusing on doing what you feel comfortable with (e.g., compressions), and trusting your team to help fill in any gaps.
For experienced nurses:
- Proactively share knowledge: Whether you’re checking a crash cart or reviewing data from a recent code, involve newer nurses in these tasks to help them gain knowledge and familiarity. Don’t wait for them to ask for help.
- Model calm: There’s nothing quite like the nerves that come with responding to a life-or-death emergency event, especially for a nurse experiencing it for the first time. Staying calm in the moment can set the tone for the group and steady the nerves of everyone in the room.