Jump to content

Why I Love IV Nurses

Nurses Article   (25,335 Views 21 Replies 1,013 Words)
by Lynda Lampert, RN Lynda Lampert, RN (Member) Member Nurse

Lynda Lampert, RN has 4 years experience and specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

22 Articles; 49,275 Profile Views; 101 Posts

IV teams are a luxury that most facilities don’t have. Yet in the facilities where IV nurses are on the job, the patients have more opportunity for faster, less painful IV sticks. No matter where you stand on the idea of an IV team, these nurses are good at what they do and deserve the recognition of our profession. On January 25, we celebrate National IV Nurse’s Day, so take time to thank some of the unsung heroes in nursing.

Why I Love IV Nurses

His name was George.

I worked night shift on a telemetry floor. Of course, all of our patients had to have IV access. It was standard policy and made sense should we need access in an emergency. Although the IVs were checked for patency every eight hours and changed every three days, it never failed that the IV would blow on night shift.

We were supposed to try twice to get access, but sometimes, the people we had on the unit were very sick. They had crap veins, and I would try, but I could never get them -- even with a 22 gauge.

I could always count on George, though.

When I heard the cart coming down my hallway, I'd peek around to see who the IV nurse was. Both of the IV nurses were good, but I knew that George could get anyone. I would smile when I saw him, walk him to the patient's room, and in ten minutes, he would come out. My patient would have access, and I was elated. Then we'd swap war stories of all the IVs we'd managed to get before.

I know I was straight up lucky to work in a facility with an IV team. Those nurses were always busy, pushing their carts through the units, getting access where everyone on the floor had failed, and basically saving our behinds when we just couldn't find a viable vein. Do IV teams make bedside nurses lazy? I don't think so, but I was always grateful when the team would come and help me out.

They were like magic in a code. I swear, those nurses could cannulate a vein in the middle of an F5 tornado. For some reason, the IVs we babied through the days and nights would inexplicably not work in emergency situations. I remember one IV nurse winding her way through the crowd, unphased by compressions, and getting access on one stick. That's what these professionals are about.

IV nurses don't just handle peripheral IVs, either. They are the masters of the PICC and central line. In my facility, IV nurses were trained and certified to start PICCs on their own. It was a fascinating procedure, almost like an operation, and I couldn't help but be impressed with their skill. Even when a PICC or central line clogged, they galloped to the rescue once again to get the ports open. Of course, they couldn't insert central lines, but they assisted with insertion and were responsible for their operation after the fact.

I remember one time when I was orienting in the ICU. We had a patient who needed bedside dialysis. It was the middle of the night -- what else? -- and we had to call in a very grumpy thoracic surgeon to insert the central line. The IV nurse came in and assisted him through the procedure, taking a great deal of stress off of me. I was so new that I wouldn't have known even how to begin assisting in a procedure like that.

Another time, we had the most difficult of scenarios. The patient was on dialysis and a breast cancer survivor. It only stands to reason that the blown fistula was in the right arm, and the breast cancer was on the left side. How else would it be? I admit that I immediately called the IV team. We talked to doctors and experts and anyone we could think of.

Eventually, it was decided to put the access in the breast cancer side, if I am remembering correctly. Obviously, these were extenuating circumstances, and the IV nurse quickly and easily found access in an arm that hadn't seen cannulation in years.

Also, when I was a new grad on orientation, I was trying to start an IV on my elderly patient. Not knowing any better, I started one on the inside of the wrist. I found a nice, strong vein there. The IV slid in, and for some reason, the blood kept pumping up into the port. I'd never seen that before, so I called my preceptor in. I asked her if it was possible that I cannulated an artery. Of course not, she told me. That's impossible. Call the IV team.

The IV nurse was really nice on the phone. She asked where the IV was. Uh-huh. And you see pulsing, right? Uh-huh. You just started an arterial line! Congratulations! My preceptor was floored. She'd never heard of someone starting an art line accidentally. So, I took it out, held pressure for ten minutes, and tried again in a different spot. I still didn't get it, and that nice IV nurse came up and got one in for me, no problem.

The point of this is that IV nurses are the unsung heroes of the nursing facility. Some hospitals don't have teams. PICCs and central lines are handled by doctors. However, inserting IVs is as much a specialty as anything else. It isn't about coddling the bedside nurse or even giving them the opportunity to lose their skills. IV nurses are vital to the treatment of the patient.

Think about it: would you like to be stuck twice by a nurse who has a hundred other things on their mind? Would you like them to take two chances and miss when an expert is on hand that could get it in one go? The need for IV teams may be controversial in some circles, but I know that I was always grateful when I heard them come down the hall. These nurses were some of my closest friends outside of the people on my floor, and I can't help but feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward them for helping me and helping the patient.

Lynda is a freelance medical writer with experience in telemetry, med-surg, and ICU.

22 Articles; 49,275 Profile Views; 101 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LadyFree28 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma.

8,427 Posts; 75,662 Profile Views

IV teams are essential; they also train nurses in critical care units how to establish IV access, and share their knowledge constantly.

Great article!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lev has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Emergency - CEN.

2 Followers; 9 Articles; 2,802 Posts; 55,931 Profile Views

Loved my IV nurses! They were officially there to start PICC lines, access ports and troubleshoot central lines and were the remains of the IV team that the hospital got rid of soon before I startd working there as a tech.They were always willing to teach and had years of knowledge in areas besides IV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PacoUSA has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in PCU / Telemetry.

3,424 Posts; 44,210 Profile Views

I would LOVE to be an IV nurse! How does one get a job as one? I never see that advertised.

Sent from my iPad using allnurses

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IVRUS has 32 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vascular Access.

1,026 Posts; 20,495 Profile Views

As an IV nurse, I appreciate, being appreciated! It seems that in your place of employment, nurses don't place central lines, as that is what you posted, but in MANY other places, RN's place central lines all the time. PICC's are one type of Central Line, and we place them in all appropriate populations. Some places are actually exploring the expansion of the PICC nurse to place even more complicated catheters, like the non-tunneled central lines.

Anyway, we are all nurses and all part of this great team to care for our patient's needs and restore them to wellness. YaY!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

nrsang97 has 18 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Neuro ICU and Med Surg.

2,589 Posts; 37,257 Profile Views

I wish we had an IV team. I am rapid response and some days I feel like I am the solo nurse on the IV team.

One thing my grandma was in the hospital and was undergoing a colonoscopy prep and I told her nurse her IV went bad. Not even one attempt to try. My grandma even though she is elderly, she has ropes for veins. The RN caring for her immediately called the IV team and this was around 0200. At 0630 still no IV. I asked the RN to try as the IV team in this hospital was clearly very busy or just no one was on that night, and she said she would send to pre op with no iv. I was stunned. I had worked there previously and the IV team is very busy and if I felt I had a chance I would try at least once. The nurse refused to try and she sent grandma to pre op with no IV.

Where I work we do our own IV's and blood draws. I am so used to having to do my own IV's I wouldn't know what to do with myself if we had an IV team. We do have a PICC team during the day. I wish they were on at night for the ones I can't get. (which are few and far between unless everyone has awful veins)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Farawyn has 25 years experience and specializes in A little bit of everything..

2 Followers; 12,645 Posts; 97,931 Profile Views

I would LOVE to be an IV nurse! How does one get a job as one? I never see that advertised.

Sent from my iPad using allnurses

My hospital got rid of them 2 years ago. Sad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lynda Lampert, RN has 4 years experience and specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

22 Articles; 101 Posts; 49,275 Profile Views

I think that for some nurses, IV teams can become a crutch. I know that some nurses on my floor wouldn't even try. I didn't blame them, necessarily, because it wasn't like they had their feet up, eating bon bons. It is a nursing skill, though, and should be practiced. I always tried at least once, unless my assessment of the patient's veins just didn't show anything. Some elderly folk and obese patients with thick arms are difficult to get. I know because I have thick arms, and people miss me all the time, hurting badly when they do.

I know that some places have done away with IV teams because of nurses abusing the system or simply for monetary reasons. I find both to be bogus reasons to get rid of such a valuable asset to the bedside nurse.

However, I would NEVER have let a patient go to pre-op without a line, even if I had to try several times. That's just irresponsible.

Lynda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PacoUSA has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in PCU / Telemetry.

3,424 Posts; 44,210 Profile Views

My first staff job was at a hospital without IV teams. I had to learn how to do them, sink or swim. Now at a travel assignment at a hospital WITH IV teams, I am actually grateful that I had to learn to do them and not depend on someone else. IV teams dont work night shift anyway, so it is not like I get to benefit from them. However, nice that the day shift have that option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

turtle_RN has 6 years experience and specializes in Neurosurgical ICU.

54 Posts; 3,404 Profile Views

Love my night shift IV nurses! I always try twice and then call them if I can't. I've had a nurse try to stick me 3 times when I was feverish, hypotensive and dehydrated. It just wasn't pleasant. Let an expert do it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Stars In My Eyes has 43 years experience and specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN.

1 Follower; 2,469 Posts; 43,937 Profile Views

When I was in the hospital years ago, I had 3 nurses each try 3 different times to get an IV in. There was no IV team. They had to call the anesthesiologist to get it in; one stick and it was in place. I felt sorry for the nurses who couldn't stick me, but I wished they hadn't all tried so hard. Nine attempts is too much to ask a patient to go through!

My sympathy comes because, as I have stated in various threads on this site, I can't stick a garden hose with a knitting needle. NO aptitude whatsoever, and believe me, I have tried! At work where there was no IV team, I would 'trade' trach care. caths, and colostomy care for someone to do the stick for me. Fortunately my co-workers were thrilled to put in an IV for me if I was going to take care of one of their unpleasant and/or disliked tasks.

IV Teams are my heroes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×