For some people, needles and blood can evoke feelings of fear and pain, whether you’re getting a routine shot or being treated through an IV.
Vascular access nurses are expertly skilled in lessening fears and pain when they are called upon to place IVs. They use breathing and relaxation techniques to help keep patients calm and less fearful.
In most hospitals, vascular access teams work on making sure IV and line placement experiences are delivered safely, painlessly and appropriately. Skilled collaborative care with team members, families and patients is a crucially important component to delivering difference-making high quality care.
“Our goal as vascular access nurses is to place the ‘least invasive vascular access device’ that provides therapy to our patients,” says April Soto, a registered nurse at Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha, Wis. “We deeply desire to minimize health risks, ensure patient safety and support the best patient health outcomes through patient advocacy and education. I want to connect with patients during a vulnerable moment in their life, and vein access provides me those opportunities.”
Soto embraces her role as a vascular access nurse and expert. She helped create a vascular access team at her hospital, chairs the Nursing Practice Council, is certified in vascular access and is a member of the Association of Vascular Access.
To ease your fear of needles, Soto says:
- Share your fears. Let your nurse know about your previous experiences with IV access. Don’t be afraid to tell your nurse you are a “hard stick.” Vascular access nurses want to know and don’t want to hurt you!
- Your care team should support your decision making for your own health and individualized care needs. Vascular access nurses will advocate for you and your health needs by asking hard questions and finding problem-solving solutions.
- Nurses adhere to a nursing code of ethics. Let them know if any therapies such as drawing blood and receiving blood or medications conflict with your beliefs, cultural norms, biases and/or wishes.
Soto shares there are two main ways to establish vascular access with peripheral venous devices and central venous devices. Peripheral devices include short- and long-tubed catheters. These devices are inserted into the lower or upper arm. The central venous access device is peripherally inserted into a vein in the upper arm, is threaded through the vein toward the heart and ends just above the heart. The best-practice strategy is to provide the least invasive treatment.
“The impact that a nurse can make on a patient’s hospital experience is a powerful one; the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is what matters most to nurses,” Soto says. “We as nurses do not stand alone. Building trusting relationships with our patients by involving them in their own individual decision-making can improve their overall health and hospital experiences.”