I volunteered at a School Open House recently where I helped with free Blood Pressure screening. It was a good time. Kids running around like kids do. Parents visiting and teachers doing there best to corral the madness.
I had an epiphany during that entertaining morning. Blood pressure measurement isn’t something that I really have to ‘concentrate’ on. It doesn’t require much self-talk. I just simply do it. Hand me the cuff, sphygmomanometer and stethoscope and I’m good to go.
But I remember quite vividly how stressful taking a blood pressure used to be. Back when I started this journey. I remember practicing on my friends, practicing on my classmates.
- Where does the cuff go?
- Which direction does the tubing go?
- What about that little valve-thingy.. which way do I rotate it to inflate and deflate the cuff?
- What about my stethoscope! Where do I place the metal head (yeah.. couldn’t remember the word diaphragm)
- And, and the needle as it goes up… how far do I pump up the cuff? 180? 220? is there such a thing as too much? Or too little??
- What’s that sound called again… the Korotkoff sound thingy?
- When do I hear the sound? When does the sound disappear?
- Wait.. which one is sytolic? Which is diastolic?
As you can see the list goes on and on. Stress can be quite the enemy if you let it.
Growth. The amount of growing one does in our profession. We start small and we develop one skill at a time. Master one skill and tackle a new one.
When I started this profession I got stomach ulcers performing blood pressure measurements and now I’m charged with managing the overall care delivery of the sickest of patients. I place central lines, intubate patients, manage mechanical ventilators and pull patients from the brink of death.
I’m here to tell you that anything is possible, you just have to want to learn and work for it. I’m living proof.