Nurses can find themselves in very stressful working conditions from time to time due to a variety of reasons. Here, the interviewer is looking to see how you personally manage those stressful situations. Think of a specific time you had to manage a stressful situation, how you handled it, what tools or resources you used and what the outcome was of the situation.
"As an emergency nurse, I was working a night shift during the winter where a bus accident brought in 10 critically injured patients on top of the standard winter visits to an ER. When we received the call that the ambulances would be showing up, I went into immediate triage mode with our current patients. This mode continued when the accident victims arrived as well and I prioritized those with the most traumatic injuries first and worked down the line. I great piece of advice I got early in my career was that I am only one person who can only focus on one thing at a time. In these situations, this sage advice keeps me focused on the patient in front of me and not letting my mind wander to the other patients."
"By far the most stressful situation I have ever dealt with took place while I was working as a technician in the emergency department at County Hospital. You may or may not remember seeing this on the news, but there was a day when we had a Code Silver, or a warning for an active shooter because there was a family member who was extremely upset over a bad outcome and had come in threatening to shoot everyone. Because the ED was extremely busy that day, we had patients in beds in all empty spaces we could find, so beds were essentially lining the hallways. Once the Code Silver was called, we had to immediately get these patients moved to a secure location. Doing this while not knowing if a shooter was right around the corner was terrifying, and the hardest part was remaining calm for the patients."
"Working my way through nursing school, I worked a near full-time job and was attending classes. To try and finish a semester early, I packed 19 credits in my final two semesters and this was a stressful time for me. While not having a lot of time for family and friends, I made sure to take care of myself by eating healthy when tempted not to and still get a good amount of sleep each night. By taking care of myself, my daily stress was lessened and much more manageable when it could've been easy to live off of fast food and caffeine with many sleepless nights."
"In my time working as a home health nurse, I spent a lot of time on the road. Winters were particularly tough with high numbers of illnesses coupled with bad driving weather. One Sunday, we had a large dumping of snow and I had a full patient load the next day. As I hit the road on Monday morning, I received several emergent calls for visits that day as I was realizing the driving conditions would be bad. Knowing I would have a large patient load that day and driving conditions were poor, I contacted my supervisor to let them know of the situation. He approved me to work the hours that I needed to that day safely and responsibly. In that situation, I took my time on the roads and made a plan for patient visits that would be efficient. By communicating and making a plan, the daywas very manageable."
"The most stressful situation I had to deal with in the workplace was working my shift with three nurses out sick. But the whole nursing team came together and managed to figure out a solution to provide expected care to the patients."
This would be stressful, indeed! To give the interviewer more context, be sure to include details such as how many nurses you usually work with in total (for instance, 3 out of 5 nurses is a different picture than 3 out of 15 nurses). Also, be sure to outline the part that you played in getting the whole nursing team together.
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