Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Taking a blood sample or starting an IV usually isn’t the highlight of a medical worker’s day… and it’s definitely not a favorite moment for the patient, especially if multiple sticks or other complications are involved. But phlebotomy and venipuncture are necessary, and mastering them can make the experience better for both patient and lab tech.

For starters? Remember that there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to sticking a vein.

“Anybody who expects just routine draws is quickly disappointed,” says Dennis Ernst, director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education in Corydon, Ind. “Because you have five or six categories of patients who present challenges—and you never know who’s going to walk in the door.”

The best rules to remember, of course, are the ones you learned in your medical training, and you should always defer to those techniques or to your administration for proper procedure. But here are a few tips and tricks that can help keep the sample process “flowing smoothly”.

Take A Deep Breath – Not you (though you can if you’d like), but the patient. By asking the patient to take a deep breath just before the stick, it both keeps them occupied and keeps them distracted. Being given something to do helps a person feel more in control of the situation—and this works as the needle is being removed, also.

Anchors Away – Stretching the skin by “anchoring” the vein doesn’t just help you stick the vein on the first try, it also helps make the stick less painful. Remember, your thumb goes below the venipuncture site, and give yourself plenty of room so you don’t accidentally jab your own fingers.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings – Finding the vein and choosing your venipuncture site is perhaps the most difficult part of phlebotomy, especially if your patient’s veins are small, fragile, or non-elastic, and much of selecting the vein comes down to feeling. Not gut feeling, literal feeling.

There’s an old joke about how the first thing lab nurses notice when meeting a new person is how good their arms veins are, and that joke isn’t far from reality. Some patients are gifts from the gods, with veins thick and visible. But others are more of a challenge.

To that end, feeling for the vein (not slapping, despite what you see in movies) will always be the most reliable approach. Palpate for that “spongy firmness”, and feel above and below your target area for a better idea of direction.

The Invisible Vein  – Still can’t find a place to stick? Dr. Jabr of Florence, Oregon suggests “to obviate the need for multiple inconvenient and painful attempts at securing the needle, apply a warm pad to the target vein for a few minutes. This helps dilate the vein and makes it more visible and accessible.”

Another trick (from the venipuncture site AimVein.com) is to bend the arm upward if the veins are hiding. This sometimes makes them easier to spot.

Less Than Thirty – You’ve probably heard this a hundred times in your nurses training, but it never hurts to hear again. The World Health Organization guidelines suggest keeping the angle of insertion at 30 degrees or less (15 is ideal) to avoid passing through the vein.

Label Immediately – There’s nothing worse than getting a great stick, drawing a great sample, then forgetting to label it right away. Actually, there is something worse… and that’s mixing up samples because they weren’t labeled at the bedside. For your sake and the patient’s sake, label all sample immediately, even if things are going a mile a minute.

Know When To Quit – Just can’t get that blood sample? Veins just aren’t cooperating? Considering a third or fourth attempt? Here’s something else to consider—getting help. Don’t think of it as failure or defeat, think of it as making the best decision for your patient. Getting a fresh set of eyes on the situation might be all that’s needed to finally draw a good sample, and knowing when to seek help is the mark of a pro.

There’s A Body Attached To That Arm – At the end of the day, though, everything really comes down to how safe and peaceful you make your patient feel. So treat each and every one as if they were a friend or relative, and remember that just because you see needles and blood samples many times a day, this is a fairly rare experience for them. They will often be nervous. Some may faint. Some may be nervous because they’re afraid they’ll faint. It’s up to you to coach them through it and make the experience as positive as possible. The better it goes, the better the chances of that person seeking medical attention in the future, and that’s always a great takeaway.

“Compassion is not antiquated,” writes Dr Larry Dossey. “It remains a crucial factor in healing and will never go out of style. It is always available for any healthcare professional who is wise enough to claim it.”

Interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant? Unitek College can help! Contact us today for more information on our many available programs.

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Of all the careers in the United States, few garner as much universal praise and respect as nursing. When people see scrubs, or learn that a new acquaintance works in nursing, there’s a look that says both “I respect what you do” and “I wish I could also do what you do”. And in the past few weeks, that respect and praise has hit new levels, as the spotlight has shone on several amazing stories.

Probably the most popular story of the past few weeks involves nurse Michael Ketterer, who first impressed the country with what he does inside hospital halls, then blew the country away with what he could do outside those halls.

Ketterer, a pediatric nurse in Orange County, showed up on the stage of America’s Got Talent. When he shared his career, they applauded. When he revealed that he’s taken in six foster children, they were astonished at his heart and selflessness. And when he sang, they rose to their feet, culminating in the rare Golden Buzzer from judge Simon Cowell.

You can see the performance here, but we’re warning you… keep the tissues handy.

Across the country in Boston, another group of nurses were also taking a bow—not from a stage, but from the center of Fenway Park. Despite heavy rain and tornado warnings, over 4,000 nurses and fans showed up to the park for Red Sox Nurse Appreciation Night, an attendance that even beat the popular Star Wars night at the park.

At the center of the large crowd of nurses, ten were recognized for outstanding achievements in their field. The nurses ranged from a former Army medic, to a pediatric burn unit nurse, to a nurse who saved a life at his gym.

Retired nurse Kathy Shubitowski even sang the National Anthem. Her daughter posted a video here.

You can read about each of them here.

Other nurses in the spotlight include nurse Lori Wood of Aultman Hospital, who received the Heartsaver Hero Award for saving a man’s life with CPR. Nurse Wood was feeding the ducks in the park with her grandchild when she witnessed a nearby man go into full cardiac arrest. Using Hands-Only CPR, she was able to keep the man alive until help arrived.

Similarly, nurse Amy Somwaru of the Munroe Regional Medical Center also stepped up when a man was found unresponsive in his car—also the victim of a heart attack. Her help, along with a local deputy’s, saved the man’s life—a man who turned out to be the husband of another nurse in a neighboring medical center.

Other notable nurses honored this week include nurse Effie Farnham, who recently retired after fifty years as an emergency room nurse. And then there’s the late Nurse Lini Puthussery, a woman to whom the World Health Organization paid homage this month after she died battling the Nipah virum in northern Kerala (the Nipah virus, transmitted by fruit bats, has a mortality rate of nearly 70%).

Of all these spotlights, one thing is clear: the impact of nurses around the country and around the world is indispensable, and nothing makes us happier than to see that recognized.

Interested in pursuing your own career as a nurse? Contact Unitek College today to find out how!

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

One of the greatest benefits of a life spent helping others is that when you run into trouble, you almost always have a support team already assembled. Such was the case for Hernando County nurse Debra Dolby, who found a source of strength in her uniformed co-workers.

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

A nurse at the Hernando County detention center since 2006 (and a member of the Navy and Marine Corps before that), Nurse Dolby has worked side by side with county deputies for over a decade. So last year when Debra was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, her co-workers quickly found ways to help… and one of those ways is now getting national attention.

“She’s just a fun person that gets down to business and calls them like she sees them,” Programs Deputy William Ingersoll said, a perspective most of her co-workers share. So when cancer treatment cost Debra her hair, staging a demonstration of support was a “no brainer”.

Many of the deputies already sported shaved heads (or were bald naturally), and the ones who weren’t quickly grabbed a razor and shaved. Soon, Debra was surrounded by a smiling pack of bald-headed friends, all smiling for a photo that now serves as motivation for her.

“It’s how you get your strength and your courage, and this is a badge of courage, ” Nurse Dolby said of the support she’s found in her team. “Being bald is hard for a woman, not hard for a man, but it’s how you get your power.”

“We wanted to demonstrate that we’re part of the same team, part of the same unit, and we wanted to show a little solidarity,” Classification Sgt. Dan Carriveau said of Nurse Dolby.

And ever the helper herself, Debra is already looking for ways that her battle today can help someone tomorrow.

“There’s a lot of diseases that people need motivation for, and if I can give them just a little bit, share my story, then I’m happy,” she said.

If you’d like to see the photo (and other support from the Hernando County deputies), you can see it on their Facebook page here.

As of today, Debra’s doctors have given her a 40% chance of beating the disease, a number Debra refuses to take negatively.

“I said what’s my chances of surviving this? He said 40% and I said who says I’m not in the 40%, ” she said, adding that her motivation for survival isn’t for her sake… it’s for the sake of those who depend on her. “They need me so it’s not about me. It’s about them.”

We love stories of nurses who change lives through their dedication, passion, and skill—nurses such as Evelyn Sotomayor, whose unrelenting care helped save a patient and inspired her to become a doctor herself. But just as much, we love stories of a community that recognizes the value of the nurses who help them, and who come together when it’s the nurse who needs help.

If you’d like to explore your own options in the world of nursing, Unitek College is here to help. Contact us here for more information.

Memorial Day 2018: Nurses On The Front Lines

Memorial Day 2018: Nurses On The Front Lines

Memorial Day 2018: Nurses On The Front Lines

Memorial Day 2018: Nurses On The Front Lines

This past weekend, the nation paused to honor the military men and women who died in the line of duty. And we’d like to continue that theme of remembrance this week by focusing on some of the heroes in scrubs who also served on those front lines. These were the nurses who carried bandages in place of rifles, yet still put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of their country and their brothers and sisters in arms.

Here are a few of their stories.

Colonel Ruby Bradley

Colonel Bradley was already a military nurse when America entered World War II and was based in the Philippines when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Soon, the Japanese army was sweeping through the islands, and Nurse Bradley, another nurse, and a doctor hid in the hills after their base was evacuated. Unfortunately, the three were betrayed by two of the locals, and Nurse Bradley soon found herself a captive in a Japanese POW camp.

But rather than allowing this to end her story, Nurse Bradley chose this moment as the beginning. She began treating prisoners with any useful medicine or instrument she could get her hands on, earning her the nickname “Angel in Fatigues”. In a short time, Bradley set up a small pharmacy, a clinic, and a smuggling operation by which she and a doctor brought morphine and other medicines into camp.

In the 37 months that Bradley was a captive, she performed over 230 major operations and delivered 13 babies, all while using anything and everything on hand as instruments.

“Three days after [smuggling morphine into camp], we had an appendectomy,” Nurse Bradley recalled during a 1983 interview. “The Japanese thought it was wonderful that we could do all this without any instruments.”

Nurse Bradley was eventually rescued, but her story didn’t end there. She went on to serve as a combat medic in the Korean War, eventually becoming the Army’s most highly decorated nurse.

Lieutenant Reba Whittle

Nurse Whittle served as a flight nurse in the European theater of World War II, and like Nurse Bradley, fought her battle from behind the walls of a POW camp. When her plane was shot down over Aachen, Germany, Nurse Bradley became the only female POW in Europe during World War II. Her situation was so rare that the Germans themselves were confused as to how to treat her.

Eventually, she was allowed to attend to prisoners within the camp—falling back on her flight school nursing training where she learned to treat injury and illness in the absence of a physician. But when she wasn’t treating soldiers, she was kept in an isolated cell.

After the war ended and Nurse Whittle returned home, she began a second battle—one against the United States government for recognition as a veteran and POW. Because of her gender and the rarity of her situation, she was denied benefits and recognition, something she fought until her dying day.

It was a battle Nurse Whittle eventually won, earning recognition (posthumously) of World War II POW in 1992.

Lieutenant Elsie S. Ott

Nurse Ott was another flight nurse who served during World War II, treating evacuees as they flew from India to Washington, D.C. While this may seem run of the mill today, the use of airplanes to evacuate the wounded (and to bring in fresh troops) was considered experimental.

Nurse Ott was chosen as flight nurse for the first evacuation flight and within 24 hours was onboard, despite the fact that she had yet to board an aircraft in her life. But Nurse Ott took to the skies like a natural, treating soldiers for a wide assortment of maladies as the plane completed its six-day flight to the states.

But Nurse Ott didn’t just treat her patients during the flight. She also kept a detailed list of the endeavor, noting the equipment and changes needed to improve the process for both the injured and the medical personnel. She eventually returned to India with the 803rd Evacuation Squad, and by 1946, she had been promoted to captain.

Her bravery and commitment lead to Nurse Ott becoming the first woman to receive the U.S. Air Medal.

 

If you’re interested in beginning your own career in nursing, Unitek College is the place to start. Contact us today for more information.

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

Good bedside manner (the way in which you interact and communicate with your patient) can have a noticeable impact on your patient reviews. But more importantly, good bedside manner can have a noticeable impact on your patients’ health as well.

Our results show that the beneficial effects of a good patient-clinician relationship on health care outcomes are of similar magnitude to many well-established medical treatments,” says psychologist John Kelley. “Many of these medical treatments, while very important, need to balance their benefits against accompanying unwanted side effects. In contrast, there are no negative side effects to a good patient-clinician relationship.”

It’s amazing to think about—that the way a nurse talks to their patient can have a direct impact on their health. It also makes it even more important for nurses to go that extra mile in making sure they establish a good, open relationship with their patients, something that’s sometimes difficult to do when it feels like you’re being pulled twenty directions at once.

The good news is, there are simple but effective ways to boost the power of your bedside manner. Here are eight of our favorites.

  1. Give Them Your Full Focus – You may have a hundred other things happening, but don’t let your patient know that. As long as you’re in their room, let them know that they have your full focus. Nothing builds a connection faster than feeling like you matter to someone. Good eye-contact is a fantastic way of doing this.

 

  1. Listen Carefully – Some people listen to understand, others listen to respond. If you want to make a good impression, be the former, not the latter. Let the patient know you’re hearing them and understanding them. It’s a quick way to let them know you’re on their side.

 

  1. Ask Open-Ended Questions – “Yes” or “No” questions are impersonal, and the one-word answers won’t give you very much insight into your patient. Look for questions that force them to expound—for example, asking them “How does this feel” instead of “Does this hurt” opens the door to a lot more potential information.

 

  1. Forget The Shop Talk – You spend your day among co-workers who can rattle off medical jargon like a second language, but your patient probably isn’t one of those people. Keep your terms simple and easy to understand, otherwise you risk raising their anxiety level when they hear a flurry of terms they aren’t familiar with.

 

  1. Plan Your Exit – Some patients don’t like to talk… others won’t stop talking. This can be an issue when you really need to move on to your next patient but don’t want to appear rude. Find some tried and true exit phrases or ways to get the conversation back on track, then use them to regain control of the moment without making your patient feel brushed off.

 

  1. Knock Knock – The power of humor in medicine can’t be overstated, and humor in bedside manner is especially powerful. Finding the right moment (and the appropriate topic) might take some doing, but if you can get a patient to crack a smile, you’ve won. (The Atlantic did a fantastic article on the subject of humor in medicine if you’d like to read more.)

 

  1. Introduce Yourself – One of the quickest ways to make a connection is to simply tell your patient who you are. And don’t be afraid to introduce yourself multiple times—they’re going to be pretty distracted and may have difficulty remembering the names of all the medical staff they’ve met, so frequent reminders of who you are can take a lot of that stress off their minds.

 

  1. Be Observant – Look for the little things in their body language, in what appears to be missing in their room, in the way they talk to you, etc. Spotting a small favor you can do for them—like bringing water for their “Get Well” flowers—lets them know they aren’t alone.

 

There are many other ways to improve your bedside manner, but it all comes down to simply caring for the people in that bed or on that exam table. If you really care, it can’t help but shine through, and that can’t help but make a difference.

If you’d like more information on beginning a career in nursing, contact Unitek College today.

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

It’s not uncommon for those raised by a nurse to develop an interest in the health care profession themselves, which means if you’re currently studying to be a nurse (or have already gotten that license), there’s a good chance that your mother or another influential figure in your life also wore scrubs. If you are of those lucky enough to have been raised by a nurse, you know that there were certain things about your childhood that still stand out to this day. So this week, as we head into Mother’s Day weekend, we’re taking a look at six telltale signs that you grew up with a nurse for a mom.

#1 – You Learned To Be Tough. Your mom was quick to help with skinned knees or bloody lips, but you learned early on that milking those bumps and bruises for extra attention didn’t play. She knew what real injuries look liked, and she was always quick to put your minor scrapes into perspective.

#2 – You Could Never Fake A Sickness And Get Away With It. Your mom saw illnesses and diseases of all kinds, all throughout her week. She knew symptoms by heart and could diagnose a malady within seconds. Unfortunately, that meant she could also spot a fake illness a mile away. You may have tried to use a tummy ache or fake fever to get out of a school day, but she never fell for it.

#3 – You Never Thought Of Work Weeks As Monday Through Friday. 8 to 5, Monday through Friday… this type of consistency was unheard of for your mom. As a nurse, her shifts could change constantly, and weekends were always on the table for work. Sometimes she was working the night shift and returning as you sat down to breakfast, other times she was home and waiting for you right after school. Her schedule was unpredictable at times, but you discovered you really didn’t mind.

#4 – You Knew The Medical Terms For Everything. You learned from an early age that asking your mom about her day as you ate dinner meant that you heard all the details. Graphic descriptions of injuries or medical procedures quickly became the norm for your household, and if something weird, gross, or crazy happened, she didn’t hesitate to describe it all in detail. As a result, medical terminology and accurate anatomical terms became a second language around the house.

#5 – Your Friends Knew Whom To Ask For Advice. Your friends, her friends, your relatives, strangers on the bus, anyone who recognized your mom as a nurse eventually had a health question for her. There were no topics off-limits, from describing symptoms to showing her rashes or injuries. She took it all in stride and was happy to offer her expertise. And if she didn’t know the answer, you knew she had a dozen people already in mind to call for help.

#6 – She Could Handle Anything. Your mom wasn’t just tough, she was smart, she was level-headed, and she had the uncanny ability to bring order to chaos. And you grew up with the quiet confidence and security that comes from a parent who you know could save a life if needed, stitch a wound, ease any pain, or cure an ailment with one of the hundred medicines they always seemed to have on hand. She saw crazy every day at work, so there was nothing you or your family could dish out at home that she wasn’t prepared for. Sure, she got tired and cranky like everyone else at times, but you grew up knowing that when the chips were down, she would have everything under control.

These, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg, but we know they’re familiar to any who grew up with a nurse in their homes. Or maybe you are the nurse raising a family, and these are just a few of the ways that your family sees you. Whatever the case, here’s to all the mothers in scrubs. A Happy Mother’s Day to you all, and thank you for being there for all our scraped knees.

For more information on a career as a nurse, contact Unitek College today!