Hello all, I am a student, with a question for all the new nurses out there. I have just finished the third semester of a five-semester associate degree program. I feel that by now, my vital-sign assessment skills should be competent, or at least have improved since the days of my first semester clinicals. I pretty much feel okay with getting temps and counting respirations. However, I find that when I try to assess the pulse rate, I can NEVER seem to find a pulse. I usually try the radial pulse first, and no matter how firmly or gently I press, I just can't seem to locate it, ever. Then I try the brachial, and I have the same problem. Usually the only way I'm ever able to get a pulse rate is by using my stethoscope over the apical pulse - and even then I still have problems finding it sometimes. And often it's difficult to distinguish over lung sounds. Aside from that, I just leave it up the magic of the vital sign machine. However, I would like to be able to think that I can still get a pulse rate without relying on the vital-sign machine if necessary. So, my question is - did any of you have this (or a similar) problem when you were this far along in school? If so - since you've started working, do you feel that your assessment skills (along with general confidence in yourself) have improved at all? I really don't want to get into doing precepting, graduating, working, etc (all of which I know is virtually right around the corner) and STILL not be able to get a pulse. I feel too scared and stupid to ask my teachers or another student for help. Any advice/input is welcome. Thank you for your time!