I just suck at sticking people.


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4 Posts

One thing to think of...I got IV cert later in my LPN career. I was having so much trouble but couldnt figure out why I couldnt feel what my coworkers did. If ppl had great veins I felt those and did fine but average or poor veins I felt nothing. I had never had any neuropathy symptoms that I had noticed. it was a short while after this I woke up with neuropathy both arms and legs very bad. I still think I had a stroke cause it was all over night but tests said no. i still walk like an alien with really bad pain that even 25 mg duragesic doesnt cover completely. Be sure to ask dr to do bs check on you and make sure you dont have neuropathy in your fingers. Never hurts to be sure

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,482 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Oh, and this is really bad, but since I only do adult blood draws not too bad. I always cut the fingertip off my vein feeling index finger of the glove because I cannot feel those suckers with it on.


30 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

Unfortunately the only way you're really gonna get good is experience. Just keep sticking when you get a chance, you'll get better as time goes by. In the meantime, here's some of the little tricks I use if they're really a hard stick.

-Act confident. It sounds dumb, but when you act like you know what you're doing it actually makes you feel like you do. It also helps set the patient at ease.

-Try not to have any preconceived notions that someone is a hard stick. There have been times when I put in an IV with one try and later the patient or another nurse tells me it took 17 tries last time they needed one! If I had known they had a reputation as a hard stick I might have felt like I couldn't do it and that would have set me up for failure before I even tried.

-If their veins are deep, I like to use 2 turniquets.

-Gravity is your friend, have them hang their arm as low as you can get it

-Applying a warm compress helps, I have gotten IV's in some very hard to get patients that way

-Don't look at just the usual places, I like the veins on the side of the thumb running up the wrist area, the fingers, and there's usually a big juicy one on the underside of the forearm (the patient might have to hold their arm over their head for that one haha)

-Like someone else said, if the veins are rolling, hold that sucker in place!

Good luck and have fun! :D

Specializes in cardiology/oncology/MICU. Has 3 years experience.

I certainly like the "hanging the arm over the side of the bed" trick, and the one on the underside of the forearm I have nicknamed "Old Trusty". Practice practice practice! Look for chances to try on difficult people, but do not just go in there sticking them. Think about what you are doing and what you will try differently this time. Everyone has a batting slump, so do not be sad-it will pass.


26 Posts

Specializes in Law, Operating Room. Has 16 years experience.

I think we all went through the same thing as new nurses. I found that taking my time to select a good site is one of keys to success. Try to relax (easier said than done) and feel the sponginess of the vein. If you can see it, all the better. As someone else said, go in at a small angle so you don't go through the vein. Good luck!

Specializes in Hospice, ER. Has 10 years experience.

I really like hanging the arm down. My vein of last resort is the one on the underside of the wrist. It hurts like heck, hence last resort, but when the alternative is no access and a patient pooping out, I'll go for it.

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

I'm actually a private pilot so I found your comparisons to be very interesting, lol.

Thanks to everyone who responded with tips and well-wishes.

Another poster mentioned neuropathy and as an issue and I've kind of wondered whether nearly three decades of biting my nails AND the skin off my fingertips has lessened my feeling in my fingers?

I actually had to stick someone for an ABG twice today and got it on the first try both times. Definitely helped my self-esteem which made me feel more confident, which is definitely the biggest thing that I lack right now.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,982 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

I don't know if this helps, but it took me SIX YEARS to get good at IV insertions. I only got to practice on a rubber arm during nursing school, and if I couldn't hit a 1/4-inch-wide firehose with a 14G pig-sticker, I'd have had no business even trying to be a nurse. ;)

It was during my last two years as a hospital nurse that everything finally clicked, and I got it. Then I got good. I was hitting thumb veins in dehydrated LOLs. I was getting first-time sticks in 10-pound newborns with GBS. Heck, even the ICU would call me when they needed a peripheral started in an IVDU. I took a great deal of pride in mastering this skill, which is an art at least as much as it is a science, and I loved doing it. Sometimes it was almost as though I could throw a 20 and hit the cephalic vein from across the room. There also were times when I wasn't in what I called "The Zone", and I'd go a couple of shifts not being able to hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle. But mostly, I rocked it.

Now I haven't started an IV in years, because I'm in assisted living and we don't deal with any sort of IV, ever. But once in a while we'll have to call EMS for one of our residents, and if they're having trouble with the stick it's all I can do not to grab an angiocath out of their bag and yell, "Let ME do it!" :D


308 Posts

Has 2 years experience.
When I start IV's or draw blood I like to imagine I am landing an airplane on a runway to get the correct angle.

It may just be coincidence but, today I tried this and had two successful sticks in a row. 18ga on the forearm just north of the wrist.

Patients did look at me kinda funny as I made those propeller sounds, though...


1,237 Posts

Specializes in critical care, PACU. Has 2 years experience.
It may just be coincidence but, today I tried this and had two successful sticks in a row. 18ga on the forearm just north of the wrist.

Patients did look at me kinda funny as I made those propeller sounds, though...

made me LOL:lol2:

Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery. Has 12 years experience.

I feel like I used to be awesome at IV starts when I was still in nursing school, but now that I work on a renal floor, I can't seem to hit anything anymore :( I miss being good at it :(

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

Practice makes perfect and you just need to keep practicing! Becoming great at blood draws/IV starts doesn't just happen over night. I always search for veins without a gloved hand first. It is much easier to feel a vein that way. Visible veins are great but sometimes the best ones are the ones you can't really see. Palpation is everything. You want a vein with a nice bouncy feel but with critical patients, finding that nice bouncy vein can be rare. Sometimes you have to insert the needle deeper (such as in patients with edema or patients who are overweight/obese) as opposed to a lesser angle in other patients. I put a pillow (with a towel or chux on top) underneath the elbow and have the arm hang down off the bed in a dependent position to help facilitate flowing. Sometimes I have more luck finding a vein with two tourniquets as opposed to one. If a patient has very fragile veins, sometimes you'll have better luck without a tourniquet as opposed to using one. If the patient's veins blow easily, I always take the tourniquet off the moment I get a flash in the cannula and then advance it.