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Students – Don’t Be Afraid of IVs

May 14th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

Learning how to start an intravenous, IV, is like learning any other skill and, as a registered nurse, you will be expected to know how to do this. However, most skills don’t usually involve piercing someone’s skin and sticking a tube into it, so it’s understandable how the thought may be intimidating. But, it’s not as hard as it may seem and you don’t need to be afraid.

Does getting an IV hurt?

It may hurt get an IV, but the benefits usually outweigh the discomfort. Many procedures done to treat an illness may be painful, but they must be done. In the case of IVs, how much they hurt depends on many factors, including:

- patient’s pain tolerance
- size (bore) needle being used
- nurse’s technique
- skin’s condition
- area  IV is inserted

Is there a way to make them hurt less?

In some facilities, nurses first numb the area where the IV will be inserted. This could be done with an intradermal injection (between the layers of skin), not subcutaneous (just below the skin). This numbs the area before you insert the needle. In other places, usually pediatric settings, a numbing cream, like EMLA topical cream, is put over the potential IV site, to numb the skin.

Not all patients want or need this type of anesthetic, so you should find out what your facility’s policy is and also, listen to your patient. He or she often knows what is best for their particular situation.

Will we have to practice on each other when we learn?

Learning how to start an IV does take practice. Some schools do ask that students practice on each other, while others don’t. There are some good mannequins that are designed to feel like real arms and they are equipped with a system that is much like the blood system in a person. You will have to see how your school handles it.

Are there any online resources to help learn?

While you can only learn with practice and this can only be done under supervision of your clinical instructor or a designated RN, there are several videos online that can help you remember the techniques. Just be sure that the videos are from reputable sites, like this one on how to start IVs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Good luck!

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Posted in Common Nursing Procedures

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