Head to Toe Assessment question.

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Were you taught to wear gloves for a head to toe assessment?

We were not taught that in first year, now in second year we have new instructors and they say we are supposed to wear gloves for a head to toe assessment.

We said, we would wear them if there was risk of exposure to body fluids, but not for normal H-T-A.

Just wondering what you were taught. When we did skill check offs for 1st year we were not told to wear them.



409 Posts

Specializes in Float Pool, ICU/CCU, Med/Surg, Onc, Tele.

The short answer is, don't argue with your instructors... (lol)

Do what they want you to do, and when you get out in the real world you can implement your common sense, which is where the long answer comes into play. I agree with you, personally... if there's a risk of exposure, you wear gloves. If not, you're just intimidating the patient when you walk in with gloves on. But then again, that's just my opinion.


90 Posts

Exactly, we didn't argue with her just told her we were not taught that way in first year. She is a very good instructor and she is easy to get along with, so it was not a problem, she just said we should use universal precautions for HTTA. We said, "you got it" it isn't like it is a life altering thing.........Was just curious if JJ


77 Posts

We do not use gloves for head to toe. :) ~twintoo

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

The only time I use gloves for an assessment is when there is an open wound. But I agree with the above posters......just do what the instructor tells you for now, then do it your own way when you get out in the real world!


392 Posts

Specializes in ER, PACU.

Not to go off topic, but this post reminded me of the video we watched in skills class for the head to toe assessment. They did everything from the Rinne and Weber to the Rhomberg test, and all the cranial nerves! The video was like 2 hours long! Could you imagine performing a head to toe for that much time? I think your patient would be pretty pissed! LOL


10 Posts

I have 3 different instructors at school right now and 1 of them swears by universal precautions and says that she wears gloves with every patient, the other says only if there's risk of an open wound of bodily fluids.

Apparently during lab testing, we aren't allowed to use gloves unless we have a good reason for it.

It's so confusing! lol


TazziRN, RN

6,487 Posts

Real world: no gloves unless there are open wounds on pt or examiner, not even if the pt has communicable diseases like Hep C or HIV. The only time gloves are worn for assessments are when it's the feet, because of fungi.

Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

The Facts of Student Life

  1. Nursing school is almost like being on a job and the instructors are evaluating students as if they were an employee.
  2. The instructor is the boss.
  3. The first job out of nursing school requires at least one recommendation from an instructor. It might end up being from this instructor.
  4. When an instructor says, "Jump!" the only question the student is permitted to ask is "How high?" To not jump is done at the student's own risk of being labeled any of these terms or phrases that could end up on an evaluation that gets seen by a prospective employer
    • insubordinate
    • rebellious
    • difficult to get along with
    • unable to follow directions
    • not a team player

[*]If it is not causing the patient or the student any harm, so what?

[*]My guess is that this instructor knows of an incident where someone doing a head-to-toe assessment got a handful of unwanted cooties on them before they could do anything about it. Her motives are probably being done honestly and to protect her students which is her job. Cut her some slack here. She's been in nursing a lot longer and seen more.


204 Posts

I say do whatever the nursing instructor says is #1. But usually I do not wear gloves unless I am dealing with body fluids.


367 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg; Psych; Tele.

Just a quick side note after reading this thread....After giving report to a night nurse who I had always thought of as an exceptional nurse, I followed her into a patient's room only to find her touching, with bare hands, the patient's reddened, scabby legs to assess these wounds (that I also told her had been weeping slightly). While I did not observe any active weeping at that time, it still kinda grossed me out that she was touching the scabs and scales with bare hands.

Personally, if the person has intact skin and is not diaphoretic, I do not use gloves. However, I would have in the above instance.


534 Posts

interesting. I always use gloves, you never know what you might encounter and I would rather not risk getting ick on my hands. And if I were a patient I would want my nurse to put on gloves to touch me...would help me think the likelihood of transmitting her other pts germs to me.

Also, there have been sooo many times that patients are put on isolation AFTER I have done my assessment. Maybe it is just a mental thing with me. I go through a ton of gloves.

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