Crisis Intervention Techniques for DNP-Educated Nurses

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Crises can unfold in a split second, and registered nurses (RNs) who have earned Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees are typically on the front line of disaster management. A crisis may also last for an extended period of time, as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated. In these cases, RNs are counted on to provide critical care in tough situations for as long as necessary. Regardless of the type of crisis, as skilled critical thinkers with a dedication to excellence, DNP-educated nurses play a crucial role in crisis intervention nursing.

They must also be prepared for disasters in many forms, from natural events like hurricanes and earthquakes to human-caused events like terrorist attacks and nuclear accidents. Increases in globalization, population density and societal changes are also amplifying the risk factors for unanticipated emergencies, making the need for stable and enduring leadership from the nursing profession as crucial as ever.

Their experience and skills can help control the chaos surrounding a disaster. This can sharpen focus and make treating urgent issues much more efficient and effective, something that could potentially improve the outcome of patients in need.

The crisis intervention techniques that drive nurse leaders’ ability to guide others in a crisis are driven by core competencies such as strong leadership, communication and ethical decision-making skills. Those who have earned an advanced degree, such as a DNP degree, can use the skills honed in such a program to make a vital difference during a critical time.

What Is Crisis Intervention?

Crisis intervention is a management technique deployed in sudden, short-term situations to mitigate long-term effects. The intervention can be used to address a range of crises, from support stemming from personal loss to a larger-scale event, such as urgent care delivery after a catastrophe.

Directly addressing the problem at hand is an important part of what crisis intervention is. It is designed to treat issues as critical for the sake of the individual so that care can be distributed in an efficient, ethical, effective manner. At the same time, crisis intervention relies on lending support and guidance to those being treated. This support is designed to put them at ease, which can make the administration of necessary treatment more efficient.

The use of crisis intervention is often situational. It is up to nurse leaders to rely on their experience and competencies to effectively assess the situation and deploy intervention techniques judiciously for optimal care delivery.

Crisis Intervention Skills

Well-developed skills propel successful crisis intervention techniques. These crisis intervention skills can be honed by earning a DNP degree, as well as the knowledge of how to apply them effectively to help guide patients and other healthcare professionals through crises of varying length.

Effective Communication

Nurse leaders should be trained in effective communication techniques. They should use their critical thinking and collaboration proficiencies and make sure that all their communications are clear, concise and unambiguous. They should be able to dispel rumors and circulate facts.

Reliable Leadership

Nurse leaders should remain calm, composed and confident during crisis situations. They should be rational and open to other ideas and show empathy to the staff’s needs while maintaining control over a situation. They should also approach a crisis from a systems theory perspective.

Critical Thinking Competencies

Nurse leaders should also use their critical thinking abilities, including analyzing, evaluating and synthesizing information to determine the best approach to crises. This particular skill also requires an ability to effectively collaborate with other credible sources and partners in an organization to ensure that elements like safety are maintained throughout the process.

Organizational Readiness

Nurse leaders should be prepared at all times to activate plans, implement actions and provide interventions for organizational readiness. They must also be fully prepared to effectively communicate these plans to others at a moment’s notice, even as the crisis starts to take shape. Additionally, nurse leaders and other members of the crisis readiness team should hold annual practice activities and update core competencies as needed.

Crisis Intervention Techniques for Nurses

Each crisis poses unique challenges. However, a few basic crisis intervention techniques for nurses can help them navigate a sudden and precarious care delivery situation.

For example, nurses can deploy active listening techniques to fully grasp the patient’s situation and begin formulating a care plan. This technique can be paired with asking basic open- and closed-ended questions that can draw key information out of a patient regarding behavior.

Another key technique to use is situational assessment. Making observations regarding the crisis at hand can provide much-needed context to the care situation. This can further allow nurse leaders to make logical, well-informed decisions on what to do next.

A third crisis intervention technique is to keep the patient engaged as much as possible. This level of engagement can begin by asking questions, but it can also continue as a means to provide the patient with support as the next steps of treatment are being prepared and eventually executed. This can allow the patient to feel reassured, which can provide an extra layer of comfort amid the crisis.

Be a Trusted Leader in Tough Times

Effective guidance is essential in times of crisis. A nurse leader who can deploy effective intervention techniques in crises can in turn make it easier to administer the right kind of care strategy even in the most stressful situation. An advanced nursing degree can teach students these techniques and help bolster the skills needed to lead during a crisis.

Duquesne University’s online DNP program can allow you to develop the leadership skills needed to provide this guidance. The program is built to give you the knowledge and skills needed to act decisively in the most difficult situations, allowing you to be a trusted leader who is ready to help no matter what. Learn how Duquesne’s DNP program can help lead you to do important things in an important profession.

Recommended Readings

Strategies for Managing Nurse Stress in the Workplace: The Ultimate Guide

Using Supplemental Nursing Staff to Fill Gaps

Transparency in Nursing Leadership and Healthcare


American Organization for Nursing Leadership, AONL Guiding Principles

Current Nursing, Disaster Nursing

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Application of a Crisis Management Nursing System in the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic”

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Crisis Intervention”

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Critical Juncture: The Doctor of Nursing Practice and COVID-19”

Nursing Times, Nurse Leadership During a Crisis: Ideas to Support You and Your Team

Sigma Repository, “Crisis Leadership and Decision-Making: Hospital Administration and Nurse Leaders’ Concerns for Disaster Response”