Nursing student advice – are you an adrenaline junkie?

please share. as we start the fall semester, it’s time to think about the challenges ahead

ACLS again
I spoke with a nursing student yesterday who took ACLS this  summer during an internship, and she told me two things. First, during the class she loved the competitiveness of trying to “win” the ACLS scenario. Next, during the internship she saw the practical applications of ACLS at work, and she profoundly agreed with one of my previous blogs in which I wrote that the main idea of ACLS is to prevent the need for such intense intervention and to be pro-active.

Then she said it: ” I admit, I am an adrenaline junkie.”

I laughed. Been there done that.

Adrenaline produces a “rush”

Most people have heard the term, and way way back in 1991 there was a movie named “Point Break” in which the hero went out of his way to experience danger.  (oddly enough, that particular movie combines big-wave surfing with bank robbing and skydiving.)

In the TV show “ER,” every time they showed the team responding to a cardiac arrest or trauma code, the soundtrack would ramp up, pulsating and flashing.  ( nobody supplies a similar soundtrack in real life, except occasionally there are surgeons who use a playlist in the OR to keep the team relaxed – creating the opposite effect and enhancing “flow”)

With the growing popularity of women’s sports, as evidenced by the Olympics, more nursing students come to the profession with a background of knowing how to compete and wanting to “win.”

Here is a definition of adrenaline junkies

Adrenaline junkie is a colloquial term used to describe someone who is addicted to thrilling and fear-inducing situations. The act of conquering fear creates a rush of endorphins that is simultaneously energizing and relaxing. This natural high leads adrenaline junkies to seek out ever-bigger thrills and excitement.

Some adrenaline junkies place themselves into dangerous situations. Others prefer to know that they are physically safe, but pit themselves against obstacles that make them feel unsafe. Halloween events and roller coasters particularly appeal to adrenaline junkies.

And of course, a self-assessment

You can determine for yourself if you have the tendencies to become an adrenaline junkie, here is a self-test that focuses on your present approach to life.


And of course, the paradox. First, you need to be pumped up and “on it”  in order to deal  with emergencies effectively. Second, in the long run, you need to cope with stress and to develop a mature approach. If you are a young student, there is an undeniable appeal to all the technical details of high-tech nursing care, and when you are in your early twenties you are at the peak of brain power in terms of training your memory. At some point though, you will need to engage in self-care activities, setting limits on your own stress-seeking behavior.

the answer

Naturally, I have a ready-made solution for you… a two part prescription.

the Nurse’s Brain.

If you are using a Nurse’s Brain, you already have a major tool for keeping your stress level in check.  You need to adopt this tool to gain the skills needed to step onto the playing field.

balance and – mindfulness

Taking inventory of the stressors and dealing with them. Whenever I have been with critical care nurses and somebody outside the ICU suggests this, the response is always eye-rolling and incredulity – every critical care nurse knows that simple stress-reduction techniques are not enough unless they are coupled with a clear-eyed approach to the challenges of clinical practice. In other words, at a stressful clinical site, the management and team members must all participate in effective problem-solving. All the meditation and Kum-Bye-ah in the world will not help the stress unless you have supportive coworkers and an effective manager.

But seeking balance in your life, affirming the good things and valuing your own self, are still the way to go.


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Filed under ACLS, Nurses Brain

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