How to Answer
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."
Entry Level Example
"Part of my nursing training was to become certified in both ACLS and BLS, and I am interested in becoming certified in PALS as well; however, I have not yet encountered a patient situation where I have had to utilize these life-saving skills. While I have never had experience utilizing these skills, with the training that I received, I am very confident that I will be able to properly execute the protocols. I take my responsibility as a nurse very seriously, and when it is time for me to provide life support measures, I will be ready to do so with confidence and skill."
"I have been ACLS and BLS certified for many years and have had to use my skills in these life support methods many times when patients were in distress. While I have never worked directly with pediatric patients and have never been required to be PALS certified, I am confident that I would be able to effectively execute such protocols when necessary, if I receive proper training. Because I have been a practicing nurse for so many years, I have been required to use my advanced life support skills many times, including recently when a patient I was triaging in the emergency department went into full cardiac arrest. After I pressed the emergency button, which alerted my colleagues of an emergency, I immediately got the patient onto the floor and started CPR until my attending physician could get there. Even after my attending got there to take the lead, I continued to assist, and we were able to revive the patient and get them stabilized."