Telemetry - any help?

Nurses General Nursing


hi everyone...

I'm totally new here, and have really enjoyed seeing what alot of people have to say about everything... but here's my question:

I'm a pre-nursing major here in chicago. I've been so eager to get involved and get some experience in the field that I've enrolled in a CNA class that offered great clinical experience in order to find a job in a hospital. Well, my class isn't even half-way through yet, and I've accepted a position in a telemetry unit in a pretty big hospital.... here's where my problem comes in... What should I expect there? What is the general patient population like? What should I expect my real job duties to be?(in addition to what I see on my job description) Is it a good idea to start this job before my class/clinicals are over?

I've been considering taking night shift until I get the hang of it - is that a good idea?

Also... how does everyone deal with post mortem care? I know I'll freak out, but will I get used to it?

I know it's a lot of questions... but any help would be appreciated! Thanks!


88 Posts


The patient population will be mostly seniors. You will see all of them wearing heart monitors and most will be on bed rest. You will learn how to put on the heart monitor for new admits. For the patients that are in really bad can expect to turn and position them every two hours. You won't give any showers...just bed baths (depending on what shift you work). You will get very good at placing bed pans and you will learn time management skills. You will probably be on you feet the entire time (except for lunch break).

Depending on where you may get to take blood samples and watch the monitors. At my hospital, CNAs didn't do this, but I have had friends that were PCTs and they were required to get the samples and do the monitors.

You will get other specimens from the patients such as sputum, stool, and urine. You may even have to give enemas. Sometimes you will need to act as a patient transporter and take patients to tests, and wheel them out if they are being discharged. You wil answer call lights and assist patients with their daily care. You will also have to restock some items.

You will also do things such as giving patients snacks. I am sure there is so much more to the job that I am not mentioning...I just can't think of it all at the moment.

I think it is good to get CNA experience before you start clinicals. you will be much more comfortable with patient contact than some of those without your experience. Also, when the nurses know that you are a student...they will sometimes show you things that help your bookwork make sense. Hospital experience will give you a good chance at getting the job you want in the future. They like seeing that you have experienced the hospital atmosphere and pace. Working as an aide and watching what nurses do will also help you know if you are in the right field. Some people find they don't like it...and switch careers before they get too invested.

I think you are doing the right thing. The experience can only help you. My only caution is this: don't work so much while you are in school that your grades suffer. As far as your shift the shift that suits you best. I found that during school afternoons worked best because my clinicals and classes were in the morning.



88 Posts

Hey Pixxel....I am from the Chicago area too. I live in Lansing, which is a south suburb of the city. Where are you from? What hospital will you be working at? :D


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

Here is a little bit of advice about one of the more important aspects of being a CNA on a telemetry unit. From time to time you will be the first person on the scene when a person goes into arrest. They will certify you in CPR and teach you how to initiate a code at your facility. However, nothing will prepare you for the first time. Remember, different people react differently and I have seen people who do everything right the first time and other people who just stood in shock and stared. The most important thing is to activate the code system, usually that consist of picking up the nearest phone and dialing a certain number and saying a certain word. Some hospitals have panic buttons and some have other proceedures. You will also have patients on the units who are no codes(Do Not Resusitate,DNRs). You need to familiarize yourself with the patients that are no codes and learn your facilities proceedures for designating them. If you find a patient unresponsive always activate the code and then start the CPR. Some people will revive before anyone else shows up. Do not feel like a fool, this happens. I am telling you this because the way hospitals are set up the CNA tends to be the person in the room at least half the time when a patient goes out(as we call it). Most CNA do not appreciate this until the have worked for a while.


36 Posts

Thank you both for pointing these things out in such detail to me... a lot of it - such as being the first one there when someone goes into cardiac arrest - should have occured to me, but I guess being so nervous has totally ruined my common sense for now...

Here's another question: By taking night shift for the first few weeks, maybe months, will I still get experience enough to acclimate to the job? OR should I just take a deep breath and dive right into morning shift?

Rileycat: I'm from the northside of Chicago, almost near O'Hare.. I'll be working at Swedish Covenant, which I guess isn't a huge hospital, but seems big enough to me!(I got lost twice going to my interview)

Thanks again for your help.


88 Posts


i never worked night shift at the hospital, so i couldn't tell you how busy they get. i am sure you would still get some new admits, but other than that....i don't know what the pace is on that shift. i am sure they manage to keep busy enough with the call lights.

the thing i do know about midnights is this: if you have any confused or dementia patients....they tend to wake up around that time...and interesting things can happen. i am sure that any night shift person would tell you that their shift is not an easy one. people in hospitals don't seem to sleep much, so you'll still have to run around a lot.

i also forgot to tell you that you will have to restrain people from time to time. i hated this at first, but when you have someone pulling out their ivs every five minutes, you have to do something.

good luck on your new job. i'll be starting my new job on july 23, so i am a bit nervous. i switched from a community hospital to a teaching hospital which is much larger (900 beds vs 300). starting a new job is stressful (but exciting), isn't it? once again...good luck!

I think the experience you'd gain from working nights is dependent upon your duties. If you are responsable for blood work, it is an excellent oppurtunity to become a blood draw expert.

Same thing with baths. If your hospital does them at night, you'd learn how to clean 'em up in fifteen minutes.

On down time, you'd have an excellent chance on learning rhythm strips. Hopefully , you'll have some good nurses on your shift. I enjoy taking Aides that I know are in nursing school and teaching them procedures when I have a chance. Breaks up the day.

As for PM care, I guess you get used to it I tend to focus on what I'm doing rather than who I'm doing it to. If I'm alone, I do turn on the TV. Might be disrespectful, but the body noises scare the pants off me otherwise!

Good luck!


121 Posts


I don't think it matters which shift you work because, MURPHEY'S LAW always prevails.


36 Posts

Oh no!!!!!

It wouldn't be Murphey's law unless someone said it! HA! Just the time to test this theory, huh?

I spoke to a nurse at the hospital I'll be at, and while she was very helpful with filling me in on the "atmosphere of the unit" - she never once disagreed when I told her I was just going to expect the worst to make my first day easier.

I think I'll be starting in the next week or two - probably evening shift...still waiting to hear back from my nurse manager for exact details. So I guess I'll be able to let you guys know if I make it... if you never hear from me again - just suspect the worst. :p

By the way, I can't thank everyone enough for all the help!

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