All ER nurses and docs know this feeling well – it haunts all of us who have been through it forever. It can, however, also serve as a catalyst for becoming a better practitioner – you just have to face it and learn from it.
What am I talking about?
That sickening feeling where it all starts slipping away from you. You’re caring for a patient when suddenly something happens and they start crashing. Normally, this is business as usual. After all, this is what we’ve trained for all these years, so we know how to respond and get the patient back.
But every now and then, a perfect storm builds up, one where suddenly one emergency begins piling up on top of the one you are treating – then another, and another. Quickly things begin to breakdown and you can’t keep up, and that’s when it hits you, chilling your soul all the way to the bone.
It’s all slipping away and you can’t stop it.
Taken separately, you could have fixed any of these problems. But in aggregate, they overwhelm you and everything in their path.
Slipping away. Someone in your care is dying and you can’t stop it. Slipping away. Too many things are going wrong at once, and the harder you try the worse it gets. Slipping away.
Reality check: It doesn’t mean you are a bad practitioner. You can’t save everyone. You can only do your best, learn from your mistakes, and move on.
Take a deep breath and be kind to yourself.
You’re not a bad person.