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Running Head: REFLECTION 1

Unresponsive Patient Reflection

Erin Power

Trent University
Running Head: REFLECTION

On September 28, 2017, on the surgical unit of the Ross memorial hospital in Lindsay, I

went to answer a call bell with one of my peers, as I had done multiple times that day. The

difference with this time in particular was that as I walked into the room one of the primary

nurses was yelling “I need someone to help me” fanatically. In that moment I was shocked. My

patient, who was stable fifteen minutes ago when I brought him a fresh cup of water, was lying

dead weight in the nurses arms. Thankfully, another nurse on the unit came into the room just

after me. They helped lower the patient to the ground and tried to rouse him. No lab experience

had prepared me for this situation. While I knew what had to be done, get a pillow for his head,

check the vitals, check his chart for a code status, I froze. I did not know where to begin, it was

as if my feet couldn’t move. By this time there were multiple staff members in the room who

took charge. I stepped back and began recording down the vitals that the primary nurse was

calling out. I helped as much as I could. When they needed the commode I was off to get one,

they needed cloths to wash the patient before they got him back into bed, I was ready.

In that moment I felt almost useless. As if all of my schooling were going to waste. I was

disappointed in myself that I did not have the confidence to jump in and use the skills I know I

have. Two of my classmates were in the room as well, and neither of them displayed confidence

during the situation either. This made me feel as if I was not falling behind in my skill

development. However, I did feel as if the staff nurses thought poorly of us students because we

were not as much help as we should have been. When the situation was under control and we had

the patient back in bed, we debriefed with the primary nurse. This debriefing I found was very

helpful. She explained to us what went wrong during the incident, including the poor

communication between the members of the health care team. There were too many people

trying to be the decision maker. As well, in the chaos the name of the patient was incorrectly
Running Head: REFLECTION

stated, causing the wrong physician to be called, which lead to incorrect orders to be made. So

while it seemed that the staff nurses were calm and confident in the situation, they were stressing

more than it had appeared. Consequently, causing errors in their paper work, not necessarily in

their ability to provide care.

Research suggests that the response my classmates and I had, which was to freeze and not

really be sure how to help, is common in new nurses (Lindsey & Jenkins, 2013). There is a

positive correlation between the amount of simulations addressing emergency situations

experienced during undergrad nursing programs, and a new nurses confidence during a real life

event (Lindsey & Jenkins, 2013). With more experience came more initiative, which lead to

better clinical practice for new nurses (Lindsey & Jenkins, 2013).

Feedback from nurses whose education had an emphasis on simulations repersented their

increased levels of confidence all dimensions of emergencies (Kaddoura, 2010). This includes

initial care, stabilization, communication with the health care team, and being the leader of the

situation. This increase in confidence was a result of having been able to evaluate and refine their

skills in an environment which you can learn from mistakes, is risk free, and intended to enhance

your skill levels (Kaddoura, 2010). This style of learning is very beneficial as students are able to

apply their acquired knowledge in real life situations.

While the Trent/Fleming school of nursing provides simulations for student to learn from,

as of this far in the program there have not been any emergency situations. Even when the

simulation is on a life threatening situation, we are aware of what they will be prior to our

assigned simulation. I think that in the upper years of the program it would be beneficial for the

labs to have surprise mock codes that students are not expecting, but are able to apply their

knowledge which they have developed thus far. While I was caught off guard while at my
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clinical placement, I am confident that with time I will become more efficient at responding to

critical situations. I have learned from this situation I will now be able to apply it in the future.

With more exposure to these situations, comes knowledge and confidence, which will be

developed as my career progresses.

Running Head: REFLECTION


Kaddoura, M. (2010). New Graduate Nurses’ Perceptions of the Effects of Clinical Simulation
on Their Critical Thinking, Learning, and Confidence. The Journal Of Continuing
Education In Nursing, 41(11), 506-516.

Lindsey, P., & Jenkins, S. (2013). Nursing Students' Clinical Judgment Regarding Rapid
Response: The Influence of a Clinical Simulation Education Intervention. Nursing
Forum, 48(1), 61-70.