New Nursing Student: Should I spoil myself with an electronic BP cuff?

  1. 0
    I was accepted to a nursing program that begins this summer. Should I purchase an electronic BP cuff that measures pulse, as well? These are a bit costly, but sometimes when I listen through a stethoscope while counting, I miscount or become distracted. Will I be tested on how to use a manual BP cuff?

    Also, would you recommend this stethoscope? http://www.allheart.com/3m-littmann-...pe/p/31273134/ I know that I'm only a nurse, but as a patient with an obvious heart click that most doctors don't even notice, it's important to me that I learn how to recognize abnormal heart noises.

    Thanks.
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  3. 24 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    So far I've only been tested with a manual bp cuff and our clinical instructors want us to use the manual ones at placement as well. I would get the manual cuff and practice practice practice!!
  5. 2
    In my school we were not allowed to purchase electronic bp, only manual. We were tested on manual only. Anyone can do a bp measurement with electronic bp. Save yourself some money and buy a manual one and practice as much as you can to get it right
    GrnTea and loriangel14 like this.
  6. 2
    You will have to know how to take a manual blod pressure, so I would save yourself the expense of the electronic cuff. Why don't you go to a store and try out a few stethoscopes before you buy the one you referenced? Sometimes a stethoscope looks great on paper, but when you actually use it, it isn't all it seems! Mine works great, but I leave it at the nurses station a lot because it is so heavy!
    GrnTea and loriangel14 like this.
  7. 3
    Most nursing programs discourage the use of electronic BP cuffs. Learning how to use a manual BP cuff is generally a skill required for fundamentals of nursing. I know were were not permitted to use automated cuffs and any borderline abnormal reading on an automated cuff was required to be repeated by a manual BP. Same with heart rates, you'll need to be able to accurately obtain a manual apical and radial pulse for a variety of reasons including comparison. As a pediatric nurse that works with medically fragile/complex patients, all of my heart rates must be apical. peripheral pulses are assessed but the apical is the heart rate.

    As far as stethoscope, new nurses generally do not have to determine specificity of abnormal heart sounds. Knowing that a rate or sound is abnormal is reported. Many nurses use Littman stethoscopes due to their quality. Rather than purchase online, I'd suggest going to a retail store and trying out the different models. Some people are very happy with a basic Littman classic and find that the cardiology models are overkill. Other nurses prefer the cardiology models.
  8. 1
    Also, while it may be important to you that you recognize abnormal heart sounds but recognition of specific abnormal heart sounds is usually an advanced practice skill.

    I had a basic single tube one sided $10 scope during nursing school that was very light. We weren't permitted to keep stethoscopes around our neck per dress code. I had an easy time keeping the scope in my pocket since it was compact and light. Something to consider.
    loriangel14 likes this.
  9. 0
    Thank you so much. I appreciated JustBeachyNurse's comments, especially. Emory has a good medical supply store, so I'll go there!

    As you can tell I'm a bit new to nursing, but I'm willing to learn!
  10. 3
    Beachy is right......school wants you to know the physical skill. Those cuffs are not always right....if they were they wouldn't need us.

    Take that money and buy a GOOD stethoscope.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Mar 6, '13
    georgiapeachgal, loriangel14, and morte like this.
  11. 3
    I don't even know when i could use my own cuff, much less an automatic cuff. .

    Taking our own cuffs to the hospital is a no-no, and BP check-offs were done manually on a mannequin who has his own cuff.

    I'd save your money and use it on something really useful like some extra books or a truck load of highlighters :-)
  12. 2
    Practice until you get proficient at counting. Don't rely on electronics, they can't do all of your assessment for you and they are not always accurate. You will get to the point where you trust your skills and instincts but only with time and practice. I'm not there yet for sure, but I feel slightly more confident every day.

    You may not have to do manual BPs at clinicals, but you will get tested. It's a very important skill. I never had to take manual BPs at clinicals, but only take manual at my job now.

    I like the Littman Master Classic II S.E., it was fine through nursing school and in my current job. When I land my desired job on a CVICU floor, then I'll upgrade
    georgiapeachgal and loriangel14 like this.


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