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

  1. 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? 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.

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    About Amcanarn

    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 89; Likes: 9
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  3. by   donk
    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!!
  4. by   HH_RN13
    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
  5. by   nursemeanie
    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!
  6. by   JustBeachyNurse
    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.
  7. by   JustBeachyNurse
    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.
  8. by   Amcanarn
    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!
  9. by   Esme12
    Beachy is 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
  10. by   Stephalump
    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 :-)
  11. by   coco.nut
    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
  12. by   Amcanarn
    Your comments are very much appreciated! I guess my boyfriend will have to be my guinea pig.

    Another question, and I hope this doesn't come across as insensitive. We were practicing vitals in A&P2 lab and I had a hard time counting the pulse of my overweight lab partner. Everyone in my family is really thin, and it was really difficult for me to count her pulse and maneuver the stethoscope around her breasts. How do you practice on people with different body shapes without letting them know?

  13. by   Rose_Queen
    Before you run out and buy a cuff, find out what the school provides. We were allowed to check out BP cuffs from the nursing department, pretty much the same as a library book. Another local school required students to purchase a nursing student kit that included a BP cuff, cheap stethoscope (most students didn't like it and still bought their own), scissors, hemostat, and I think a couple other items as well.
  14. by   Miiki
    I wouldn't. In the nursing home, we were only allowed to use manual. We get checked off with manuals, so you should try to get as much practice with a manual cuff as possible. In the hospital, we aren't allowed to bring our own cuffs for infection control, so we use the hospital's electronic vital sign machines.