Tell me about an experience when you had to use ACLS, BLS, or PALS protocols in your nursing practice.
The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's knowledge and skill level of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) protocols. Every nurse, at a minimum, should be trained in ACLS and BLS, and depending on their work environment, they should also be trained in PALS. This training includes a set of clinical interventions for the urgent treatment of cardiac arrest, stroke, and other life-threatening emergencies, as well as knowledge and skills to execute those interventions. The candidate's ability to effectively respond to a crisis using appropriate life support interventions directly correlates to patient outcomes. To effectively answer this question, the candidate should articulate their knowledge of life support protocols and describe how they have used them in the past.
"I am very familiar with all the life support protocols that you mentioned and have used all of them in my nursing career, but most recently, while working in pediatrics, I have used PALS most often. I actually had to initiate PALS protocols while working on my unit earlier this week, when a young patient unexpectedly coded. While we waited for our hospitalist physician to arrive on our unit to help us with the response, I led the nursing team in giving the patient CPR and determining which meds were needed to stabilize them until the physician arrived. If I had not taken action and properly followed PALS protocols, the patient would have died, but because of the appropriate action I did take, they are expected to be discharged later this week."
"I am a relatively new nurse, as I have only had my license for two years. However, I am certified in BLS, ACLS, and PALS. Fortunately, I haven't had too many experiences in the outpatient clinic where I have had to administer life support to patients, but there was one situation where I had to utilize my PALS skills. A young couple with a newborn with pertussis, or whooping cough, had brought their baby to the clinic instead of the ER, and the baby stopped breathing and turned blue while in the waiting room. Once I was alerted of this, I had the front desk call a code and I immediately responded to the family and began resuscitation efforts on the newborn. By the time the paramedics arrived to take the baby to the hospital, he was breathing on his own again, so our efforts in the clinic likely prevented him from dying in our waiting room."
"To start the nursing program at UTA, I became BLS certified through the American Heart Association. I am not ACLS or PALS certified but would like to be certified in both. I have not encountered a situation in clinical where I have had to use these skills; however, at the beginning of each semester, we have a refresher day at the smart hospital where we practice BLS on a medical manikin to ensure our skills are still up to par."
Very good answer! It's great that you are already BLS certified and that you show an interest in both ACLS and PALS.
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