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a wannabe nurse with a fainting problem


I have cleaned up (lots of) blood. However, when I get my blood taken, finger pricked, stub my toe and it starts bleeding, I instantly pass out. Every single time. This wouldn't really be a problem if I didn't want to be a nurse sooo badly! I have honestly sat up crying at night because I feel like this will be the one thing that will hold me back from my dream. Any advice or stories of nursing students overcoming this?

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 10 years experience.

I pretty routinely pass out or feel faint when I get blood drawn, an IV placed, etc. It's all a psychological reaction, but it happens. I have no problem, however, starting IV's, giving injections, drawing blood, etc. on somebody else. How do you react when it's someone else's blood? If you're fine with it, then there isn't really any reason you couldn't be a nurse (provided you take care not to cut yourself while on the job).


Specializes in pediatric. Has 1 years experience.

You can also go into areas of nursing where you're not exposed to such things as often like maybe psych nursing versus bedside med-surg nursing. There are a lot more options once you get experience (management, insurance, case manager), but unfortunately, you have to probably go through the trenches first. Also, it seems like often times it's not what you know but who you know- so start making those networking connections now!

I went through something similar only I would pass out at the sight of blood and anything relating blood draws and IVs. I actually was diagnosed with VasoVagal syncope and it was bad enough that as a child I had a pacemaker. I wanted to be a nurse when I got older and decided I was going to get over that fear. Watched lots of YouTube videos of operations and IV starts. Every time I thought I was about to faint, I'd just turn it off and relax. Eventually, I got entirely over it. I was lucky that my first job was in OB where the blood for some reason never bothered me. I also got over the fear when I get blood drawn or and IV by just practicing the same type of relaxing I'd do when I watched the videos. With practice, you can learn to train your body to respond differently. I can't say I don't ever feel it coming on, but I have learned how to overcome it. It's possible. Don't let that stand in your way.

I am one such nurse that feels like passing out (gets the whole tunnel thing and sweaty and nauseated) with certain procedures. I have learned not to look at what's happening to the patient in that area and instead focus on the vital signs and the patient's face. I have had to help patients through the placements of central lines, epidurals, and lumbar punctures. I just cannot watch these things without feeling bad. But I am still a good nurse in many other ways. I would not let this problem stop you from pursuing your dream. As previous posters said try to specialize in an area that does not routinely involve blood. For example a community health nurse or private duty nurse.

Nonyvole, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency.

I used to run screaming from the room anytime people came at me with a needle. I still get amazingly anxious about it, and avoid getting stuck if at all possible. But, it doesn't affect how I, as a nurse, practice. Because if my patients are coming at me with a sharp object, then we've got bigger problems going on and I'm working on getting the heck out of dodge and calling for help. If a coworker is coming at me with a sharp object then again, I'm getting out of there. Or I'm a patient and it doesn't matter how I may flip out. Or pass out.

Some of my classmates did pass out during clinicals. It didn't affect them, outside of other nurses asking the rest of us "you're not going to pass out too, are you?"


Specializes in Emergency.

I've worked with a few people over the years who have a similar problem. Just remember, it's not generally the nurse's job to get stuck! If you don't have a problem administering shots and IV's, you should have no problem.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

OK - I got this one ...

My parents were understandably concerned when I fainted each time I had a minor injury or got an injection as a child, so they followed up to see if anything was wrong... cue visits to all types of physicians and diagnostic testing. Some of us have a hyper-vagal (autonomic) response to noxious/painful stimuli. There is really nothing you can do about it except recognize when it is happening and take appropriate measures. It can happen without any conscious "fear" of the stimuli. I was told that it usually lessens with repeated exposure.

I have fainted under all sorts of circumstances. I got to know my triggers - warned the clinician ahead of time. Usually, nurses or phlebotomists listened to me but the physicians did not - LOL. Most embarrassing faint? Parking lot of the grocery store after I stubbed my toe... sat down in my car, put my head down & proceeded to do a somersault onto the parking lot. Hilarity ensued. Word of advice - if you think you're going to faint in a 'medical' environment, head to the bathroom, broom closet, or someplace else where you will not be subjected to the 'treatment' of a mob of white coats....

It does get better over time.

Yesss! I feel like you described it exactly! Im not particularly scared of getting my blood taken. Itso like one minute I'm sitting there fine and the next I'm seeing tunnel vision and my hands are clammy. It's not everyone else's blood that bothers me, just my own.

I got a tb test and I was completely fine then the next minute I had to go outside and put my head between my knees. It's like I had no control it just happened! I hope it does get better, I'd hate to pass out in front of my professor. That would be embarrassing.

I posted this before I started nursing school. Now I am in my final semester and I no longer have the fainting problem! I still don't like shots but I don't hit the floor when I get one so I would call that an improvement! So if anyone wants to go into nursing and you are not sure if you can handle it, just go for it! You would be amazed at what you can get use to. I absolutely love the profession I have chosen and I am so glad I didn't let my fear hold me back. And thank you all for the wonderful advice it helped more than you will ever know!


Specializes in School Nursing, Hospice,Med-Surg. Has 18 years experience.

My parents laughed when I told them I was going to nursing school since they spent the better part of their parenting scraping me from every dental, doctor, and hospital floor they took me in to.

As a child and teenager, I fainted at the sight of blood, at the thought or discussion of a broken bone, and the smell of an alcohol swab and the sight of a syringe. My big sister was very accident prone and I rarely could visit her in the hospital with her broken bones and concussions because I couldn't handle the medical environment. My best friend had many medical issues and she often jokes around with me over the memories of my fainting when she'd get up for her first walk post-surgery. It was bad.

I NEVER EVER imagined I'd go into any type of medical career. My first degree was in Spanish and my first job was working in a home health office where I became enamored with the RNs that worked there. I slowly began to learn what they did and realized nursing was more than just sticking needles in patients and following doctors around.

2 years later I was in nursing school with my head spinning and scared to death I would faint during my first clinical. Only once did I feel faint during all of school and that was when I was placed on a high step stool during a C-section so I could see (I'm short). I got woozy and quietly stepped out, placed my head down on a nearby table until the feeling passed and was back on my stepstool in time to see that baby born!

Not much later I was on a med-surg unit as a new RN with a colorectal surgical specialty, wrist-deep in some fantastic abdominal wounds. I've never looked back and, honestly, miss the good stuff now that I'm a school nurse. I get excited when there's the rare, bloody mess around here...not that I want someone to be hurt (especially a kid) but sometimes I'll get a contractor or someone try to cut a finger off.