CNA Exam -- Anyone have trouble finding the pulse?

  1. My friend from pre-nursing just tool her CNA exam and had difficulty finding a pulse. At one stage she lost the pulse and asked to start over and the examiner wouldn't let her. Has this happened to anyone? How did it turn out?
  2. Visit DolceVita profile page

    About DolceVita, RN

    Joined: Jun '09; Posts: 1,581; Likes: 1,240
    Registered Nurse; from UK
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in Correctional Nursing

    13 Comments

  3. by   ohiocleveland
    I know in Ohio when you take the State exam you are allowed to start over, but you have a total of 35 minutes to complete all skills. some times finding a pulse can be a little tricky just always go down on the left side of the person thumb not using your thumb as there is a pulse in your thumb.. Use three fingers and your friend should find it..
  4. by   littlenursingmommy
    Also from Ohio, so I got to start over on skills too...pulse wasn't one of mine, but I did occasionally have trouble finding it in clinicals; I've found that the key is adding the right amount of pressure. Too little or too much and you won't feel it; don't be afraid to press a little bit, but don't go too, TOO rough either. By the way, I also had trouble finding it if there were too many distractions in the room-- even though you're not "listening" for anything, it's really easy to lose it if you're in a noisy room.
  5. by   fuzzywuzzy
    Put your fingers on the wrist bone and then move it inwards until you're in that "trough" between the bone and the tendon. It sometimes helps to tilt the hand backwards a little.

    In the real world if someone's got a faint pulse I take a brachial or apical one, but for your test they might want you to do a radial.
  6. by   DolceVita
    Thanks for the responses but I was really looking to find out if anyone had a similar experience to my friend on their test (i.e. not being allowed to start over if they lost a pulse) not instructions for pulse taking.

    Sorry if it was unclear.
  7. by   jswitch
    I'm in FL and they don't allow you to restart. I finished my course and haven't tested yet, but when I've practiced I have had trouble finding it in some people. I also have a pretty cheap stethoscope so that doesn't help. If I can hear it faintly, I just place the diaphragm there and once I start pumping I don't have a problem. It really just takes practice.
  8. by   emmasma
    In Michigan you can start over.
    I drew vitals as one of my skills and could not here her pulse, some are just harder to hear. I was allowed to retry, but failed anyway, I should have tried again because it was a semi guess.

    I think that is very silly that you can not retry because in a real situation you can not feel it right away sometimes and you would just try again.
  9. by   FLg8r
    Quote from littlenursingmommy
    Also from Ohio, so I got to start over on skills too...pulse wasn't one of mine, but I did occasionally have trouble finding it in clinicals; I've found that the key is adding the right amount of pressure. Too little or too much and you won't feel it; don't be afraid to press a little bit, but don't go too, TOO rough either. By the way, I also had trouble finding it if there were too many distractions in the room-- even though you're not "listening" for anything, it's really easy to lose it if you're in a noisy room.
    what were the 3 skills they tested you on? i'm getting ready to take mine now and while i'm not worried about the written portion, i am concerned about forgetting something on the skills portion. we were told they would give us one easy, one medium and one hard skill to perform ..... any help would be VERY much appreciated
  10. by   sexycheetah
    I have not taken my test yet it will be next month on the 13. But I am also having difficulty in finding the pulse. I do not understand why they did not let you take it over. We have to do the pulse and respirations and I dont see why. I work on the floor as a unit tech at the moment and I told the nurses I have been having a problem finding the pulse and keeping it if I do find it. They were all trying to be helpful one said only count it for 15 secs then multiply it by four if you lose it or count it for 30 seconds LOL. One nurse said dont worry we have a machine that does the pulse we barely ever have you take it yourself. I said yah that doesnt help me with my test but thanks. I dont know why it is so difficult but I hope that I do it ok and I dont fail just bc of that. Worried and hopeful wish me luck im sorry they wouldnt let you start over in ny they do
  11. by   JDZ344
    It's stupid that they won't let you restart- I often have trouble in RL and end up joking with my patients that they must not have one! Practice as much as you can on family and friends.
  12. by   Kitsey
    I had and angel for a tester! I could not find the pulse on my person. Tried and tried and just could not feel it! After several minutes, I finally found a weak one, then lost it. I was almost in tears. The tester said she had a hard time finding the persons pulse as well and let me take it on HER instead! I found it right away and passed no problem.
  13. by   northernguy
    I'm curious if the person you were checking the pulse on was an elderly resident or just another aide playing the part of a resident. Sometimes if you have an older person who may be bradychardic, and has poor circulation or an irregular heartbeat it can be a little difficult to find and count a pulse, especially if they have low blood pressure.

    What would be the reason for not allowing you to start over. I cannot think of any earthly reason why this would be. As an actual CNA if for some reason you are distracted while checking a pulse, you would start over, why wouldnt this be the case during your testing?

    Checking someones pulse is probably one of the easiest skills in my opinion, I had it during my CNA test and didnt have any problems. Just make sure you know where to find the radial pulse obviously. It is on the thumb side of the wrist. As long as you know that it should always be there unless the person has compromised circulation to that extremity or again if they have low BP.(as a rule of thumb a systolic BP less than 80 and you likely wont be able to feel a radial pulse no matter how hard you try.)
  14. by   safia.n
    Quote from DolceVita
    My friend from pre-nursing just tool her CNA exam and had difficulty finding a pulse. At one stage she lost the pulse and asked to start over and the examiner wouldn't let her. Has this happened to anyone? How did it turn out?
    i dont bt i fail my state test in washtnaw comeumety collage puls and respiration she says i fail but did not tel me what was her answar istill dont know paper says idid not report

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