Vital Signs Check-Off

My check-off was honestly more nerve-wracking than I thought it would be! Last night and this morning as I was going through the script, I was as calm and cool as a cucumber. I honestly didn’t foresee there being any problems with going through the steps of the check-off and doing so efficiently and competently.

However, when we got into the lab and were broken up into groups (I was in the third group) and started working on our head, scalp, neck and thyroid lab assessments, my hand started to shake and I started sweating. I’m surprised I was even able to document my assessment on my lab partner as we went through our activities! The first and second groups finished with the first phase  of the check-offs, which was the vital signs check off on the SIM-man (the dummy), and began the second phase of check-offs – interacting with a live “patient” – but our group had yet to be called!

Well, just as I felt like I was about to start running around the lab screaming, we were called to go back into the room set up for the first phase of our check-offs. We filed silently into the room, “signed” in, got our bed assignments, and stood beside our beds and dummies. Then our professor started a timer for 5 minutes and we were allowed to begin.

Five minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time on paper, but it was plenty of time to get the pulse, respirations, and blood pressure of the SIM-man! And after we got the numbers, we had five minutes to sit down and document our findings and what they meant. My SIM-man had a respiratory rate of 16, a pulse of 78, and a blood pressure of 140/90. When we were documenting we also had to answer why we take a palpable systolic pressure before an actual blood pressure, what “systolic” means, and what “diastolic” means. I easily finished documenting within the five minutes given to us, and returned to the lab to wait on the rest of my group.

When the rest of my group returned to the lab, we went two by two – with our lab partners – to our other instructor to complete phase 2 of our check-offs. In this phase, I had to pretend I was in a clinic with my patient (lab partner). I had to start from the beginning by greeting my patient, introducing myself, washing my hands, then taking the temperature and stating the results to my patient. Afterward, I put the blood pressure cuff on the patient and palpated the systolic pressure, stating my findings to the patient. When I was finished with that, I asked her if she had any questions, thanked her for her time, and washed my hands again.

All in all, the entire check-off probably took no more than 20 minutes and was easy-peasy! I can’t believe how nervous and anxious I was, but I’m definitely thankful I’m done. And I passed! Hopefully the head-to-toe assessment at the end of the semester will be just as easy.



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