Fainted while watching blood being drawn... Advice for nursing student?

Nurses General Nursing


So, I am a sophomore in college in a BSN program. I went last week to job shadow an RN in the med surg department at a local hospital. I was nervous about this experience being that it was my first time being in a medical work environment for several hours and I wanted it to go very well. Soon after I got there, the RN was called into a room to draw blood from a patient so I followed her into the warm room. As she was drawing the blood from the patient, I was very focused on the needle because I wanted to get myself used to (and desensitized to) blood and needles being that I'm going to be having to deal with them a lot. Anyways, it was taking her a long time because the vein was giving her trouble. One second I was fine and then I started seeing spots everywhere and knew I was going to faint. I took off my jacket and sat down and sure enough blacked out. Needless to say, it was kind of embarrassing that I passed out just by looking at the needle and blood. However, I do have a history of fainting from getting too hot or having blood work. And I'm pretty sure I was locking my knees and not breathing right because my sinuses were messed up at the time. (And yes I did eat breakfast) But, I thought for sure that if I watched someone else having blood work done that it won't bother me. Afterward, I was upset, thinking maybe nursing is not for me but I looked up the topic online and saw that other students have had the same problem with fainting and that made me feel a lot better and made me think this is something I can work on. So, I was wondering if any of you have had this fainting issue while starting out in school and if you have grown out of it or any advice you might have for me? Thanks!

I've almost fainted three times, but recovered after slumping to the floor. Once was from an accucheck. Once was during a colostomy bag change. The final time was during a csection. C sections do bother me because of the pulling and twisting. The accucheck was also done with a twisting motion for some ungodly reason that I'll never understand. I have no issue with colostomies, so I'm not sure what was going on there. These all happened in school over eight years ago and I haven't had a problem since. You're not the only one.

Try eating a hearty breakfast/ food period. I almost fainted during a code since I hadn't eaten for 8 hours

Chill out..you fainted because you "get it". Morons don't faint because they have no idea what they are witnessing....you do. Congratulations...you have a fantastic career ahead of you...feel sorry for the ******** that don't faint..

Never had issues with needles, but did have a fainting spell in nursing school that happened during my OR observation day. The surgeon was performing removal of a deviated septum. I could feel myself getting a little dizzy and once I looked at the doctors hands with blood on them the room went dark. I knew at that point the OR would not be the place for me. I also worried that I might not be able to handle any blood, but fast forward almost 20 years and now I perform dressing changes on surgical wounds regularly with no issues.

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg.

Don't worry, it will pass. I fainted once and then again (almost) twice. I realized that I was letting myself feel too emotional for the patient and needed better boundaries. All those were in school, 20+ years later and never had a problem since. You will get through it and be a great nurse!!

i have this motto that people laugh at me when i say and call me overly cynical, but as a nurse itll make a lot more sense. i usually say "it kinda sucks at first, but eventually you die enough inside that not that much bothers you anymore"

i never thought until just prior to becoming a nurse id ever be able to get "used to" things like blood, guts, needles, poop, snot, nubs and unidentified liquids appearing on me, but these days i see all of that and think to myself "will this wash out or should i just buy a new pair"

itll be tough but theres not much more advice one can give other than to power through and do your best to deal. blood is gonna be a big aspect of your job so itll either be one of the first things youll learn to get over, or itll be the thing that ends your career if you cant seem to get around it.

i suggest striving for the former

To the OP, make sure you concentrate on breathing and don't lock your knees (look up the biomecanhics of that one)

Some people don't realize that when they are fearful, in pain, or watching something that makes them very uncomfortable, they hold their breath and may even bear down a bit at the same time. This triggers a vaso vagal response, which can result in a feeling of nausea, followed by a light headed sensation or even fainting. This is why people are telling you to concentrate on your breathing. Take good, full, slow breaths, and exhale completely as well. Have a chair in sight when you know you might be vulnerable to this happening, and sit down, and put your head down while taking slow deep breaths if you begin to feel odd.

And yes, most people do get over this eventually. Don't feel bad about it.

Specializes in Case Manager/Administrator.

I would not follow a nurse I would follow a phlebotomist (lab tech) as they do this all day long...they are the best teachers.

Specializes in school nurse.
Chill out..you fainted because you "get it". Morons don't faint because they have no idea what they are witnessing....you do. Congratulations...you have a fantastic career ahead of you...feel sorry for the ******** that don't faint..

So, if we don't faint, we don't get it AND we're morons?

Interesting pep talk.

I fainted twice before I finished nursing school. Once was because I didn't eat or drink enough that day. Stay hydrated, and get familiar watching procedures as you are able. If you have a chance to watch blood draws, IV insert, whatever, don't shy away from it. Every time you watch it, it becomes less scary.

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