Stress Inoculation Training

Similar to first responders and other emergency management professionals, emergency room staff are frequently under huge amounts of pressure, and often forced to make life or death decisions with little to no notice. Even with their experience, however, they can often find themselves temporarily frozen by the unexpected. In such situations, said director of emergency ultrasound and director of education at the University of Utah, Michael Mallin, MD to Emergency Medicine News, “the more we recognize that our stress is going to be through the roof, the better we’ll be able to cope with that stress in the moment.”

To help in such situations, the University of Toronto is performing a funded trial of a stress inoculation training program for nurses, respiratory therapists, and emergency medicine and general surgery residents, that may find a larger audience in emergency and disaster management personnel. The training, intended to develop the “fight” reflex in high-stress situations, is intended to have three components:

  • The teaching people of the physiological facts and effects of stress;
  • The practicing of the physical and mental skills to deal with stress;
  • The simulation of scenarios to allow for practice of skills under stress.

Notes Dr. Mallin with respect to the benefits of training, “The medicine's not that hard. We can all talk through a cric. But whether you can perform a thoracotomy in real time is all about how well you can compose yourself in the moment, how prepared you are for the adrenaline rush. That's what stress inoculation training is about.”