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How to "decompress" after a code.

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

Nurses begin working healthcare for many reasons. Whatever the reason is that makes you want to be a nurse, remember that the job of a nurse can be stormy. Some nurses may have less trauma in their workplace than others, but regardless of your work situation, as a nurse you are trained to provide CPR. You never know when a stormy shift will arrive, or when you are a bystander to a civilian in cardiac arrest. Preparing for a code is something that nurses get trained on very well, but the storm of a code is a storm of life and death. There is no time for questioning or debating ideas. When a patient is in cardiac arrest, the healthcare team needs to act quickly for the best outcome of the patient.

It should not come as a shock to anybody that even witnessing a cardiac arrest is a stressful event. While codes might be a regular occurrence for some nurses, everyone gets weighed down at times after codes. There may not be a way to prepare all nurses for codes that can weigh you down, but one thing to remember is that nurses are people too. Doing CPR on a baby, or child, neighbor, loved one, or friend is heart breaking. Taking care of yourself needs to be your priority when the code has been called. Your other patients need you, and they need you at your best. If you are having a particularly rough code to process, talk with your charge nurse or supervisor. Calibrate your mindset to get back to your other patients, but remember that your other patients need a nurse that will be at their best. If you feel like you can't give your best, talk to someone and get help before you breakdown in front of a patient. Sometimes nurses may need to go home after a code to process the event, and this isn't a bad thing. The other nurses on the unit will understand, and if you are ever in this situation, do not forget that in order to help others, you need to take care of yourself.


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