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Hello I am just in my second day at a rn program and I need help with vitals. Everyone has some background in my class and I have none. I have a big skills test on this a week from today and could use any helpful suggestions on how to always find the Bp and anything else you can think of. Thanks.

practice practice practice --- take the vitals of family members, neighbors, students in other classes, friends, anyone and everyone that will let you :)

best of luck

Lol I remember being worried that my BP was about 170/90 ... and I passed and now I'm a walking talking RN.

My trick? Practice. Find the brachial pulse. Place diaphragm right over pulse. Relax. AND practice.

emtb2rn, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency.

When learning to check a manual bp, palpate the brachial artery first so you'll know exactly where to place your scope. Listen to the "thumps" as you inflate the cuff, another way to know you're in the right spot.

When palpating pulses, use 3 fingers and press lightly, increase pressure gently until you feel the pulse.

And have fun.

la_chica_suerte85, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Like everyone says, practice.

I know how awful skills exams can feel. I had no background either and it seemed like the hardest thing to take a BP. What helped was practicing as much as I could. I even got a BP cuff/sphygmomanometer and practiced on anyone who would let me. Practice feeling pulses on yourself, especially after you work out because they should be nice and bounding. Palpate carefully -- never lift your fingers off the surface.

In advance of the skills exam, familiarize yourself with the processes of vitals until you're so comfortable with it that it is second nature to you. One week doesn't seem like a lot of time to get it done but it will happen with daily diligence. On the day of the exam, breathe, relax, focus. It makes more sense than you think and soon this will be as automatic as breathing, especially once you appreciate how much information this type of basic assessment can give you.

Good luck! You're going to do fine!

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

I agree w/ the first reply, about practicing finding the brachial pulse. (If you have children to practice on, I find them easier to feel a brachial pulse with! You can then generally find an adult's in their corresponding anatomical position). Here's a picture to help get you started in where to feel--

Next, your cuff probably shows where to align w/ the artery. Line it up w/ the pulse. Inflate the cuff slowly, listening for the thumps as you go. Future pts will appreciate this because if you stop inflating shortly after the thumps disappear, you won't over-inflate. What I mean is, say the BP is 90/60. You'll stop hearing the thumps when the needle hits 90, so you don't have to inflate it until the needle hits 200, thereby sparing the pt some discomfort.

Anyway, once the thumps stop, SLOWLY turn the dial to release the air. This will help the needle come down slowly so that you can see clearly what numbers are when the thumps come back (systolic BP) and when they disappear again (diastolic BP.)

If you haven't, also look on You Tube for tutorials.

Finally, take a deep breath and relax! You'll get this!

When I first started learning how to take BP, it helped to watch the needle bounce. One thing you have to be careful of is that even though you can see the needle bounce, it is NOT the actual systolic or diastolic but more that it provides you with a sort of rhythm for the patients beat. You want to always record the numbers where you hear the beats, not the numbers where the needle only bounces.

Yep, practice practice. Keep in mind that professors know you are nervous, they have been in your shoes at one point. My first BP test was a complete disaster. My prof asked me if I understood what I was doing... and I admittedly nodded, then she said "relax, and try again." The second time was perfect, so just stay calm and you will be fine :)


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