There are plenty of wonderful things about being a nurse, but one of the negatives is setting up an IV. Fortunately, thanks to the shared experiences of countless nurses before you, you have access to a wealth of knowledge about how to allay patients’ fears and deliver an IV with no muss or fuss. Here are several IV therapy tips and tricks for beginner nurses.
Confidence Is Catching
Here’s a tip that applies to any procedure: have confidence in yourself, and if you can’t do that, fake it. In the case of IVs, however, you should be confident. You had the training, and every time you performed the procedure, you only got better at it. That said, when dealing with a patient, never give off a whiff of nervousness. Explain the process to them, have all your tools in order, and make the insertion seem as natural as anything. Hear out any concerns by the patient and keep the gear—especially the needle—out of sight in the meantime. Above all, exude confidence and earn the patient’s trust. They’ll relax and make it easier on you.
Keep Them Warm and Comfortable
In general, a warm patient (fevers notwithstanding) is a happy patient. However, keeping a patient warm and cozy isn’t just a matter of comfort. Vasoconstriction occurs when the muscles in blood vessel walls tighten and constrict, slowing down the flow of blood or otherwise blocking it. This can make it difficult to find a vein and insert the needle. Speaking of warmth, hot and moist towels or compresses can also bring a vein to the surface in a way that makes the process more pleasurable for the patient.
Keep It Clean
Obviously, cleanliness is important whenever the skin and veins are punctured. Disinfect the area where you plan to insert the needle with an alcohol swab. Don’t just stick to the spot where you plan to insert the needle; wipe in the direction of the blood flow with vigor. This will help you find a vein and will also bring surrounding veins into relief. Should you need to access other veins, they’ll be prepared for you.
Conversation = Distraction
Here’s one more bit of advice on IV therapy tips and tricks for beginner nurses: work on your patter and interview skills. Learn a bit about the patient beforehand, if you can, and note personal information you can work into questions about themselves. If you keep them busy with conversation, they’re less preoccupied with the fact that you’re sticking a needle into their vein. Keep it light and simple. What do they do? Do they have children or siblings? What do they do for a living, or, even better, what do they do for fun? People generally love to talk about themselves. Use that to your (and their) advantage.