CNA Training – Learning to Take Vital Signs

cna trainingCNA Training 101 – Vital Signs

It’s no surprise that CNA training involves taking vital signs. This, in fact, is one of the first lessons in your CNA training manual. Vital signs, are exactly as the phrase would suggest, –”vital,” “important” and a tell-tale sign of any underlying problem a patient may have.  Measuring for vital signs includes:

  • Taking a pulse
  • Reading the patient’s temperature
  • Checking blood pressure
  • Checking the lungs for breathing rate and an unblocked, unhindered airway

When you take vital signs as a CNA training student, you’ll be measuring them as compared to a standard or average number for the age and sex of the patient. Learning to administer the vital sign test accurately and efficiently is one of the most common and most important parts of your job after CNA training. Vital signs taken at regular intervals ensures that you have a current assessment of your patient’s condition. Let’s go over each one:

Vital Signs During CNA Training

Pulse – Taking an accurate pulse provides a base idea of how the patient’s heart is functioning. If the pulse is too rapid or sluggish, this could indicate an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. The pulse is generally taken by placing the index, middle and ring fingers over the artery located in the wrist or  from the arteries located in the neck or the back of the knees. With a variety of pulse points available the CNA should always able to obtain this base view of the heart’s functioning.

Temperature – Temperature checks basically let you know whether your patient’s body is over or under heated. The baseline for body temperature is 98 degrees. A little over or under is acceptable, but anything beyond one degree should be addressed. A fever, or overheating of the body, can be an indicator of infection, a reaction to medication or treatment, or a number of other reasons. Temperatures can be taken in a variety of ways but are generally taken with an ear thermometer by CNA training students and graduates.

Blood Pressure – Blood pressure checks provide information on the amount of force the blood is surging through the arteries and blood vessels with. Measuring the blood pressure at points throughout the day, and during different degrees of exertion provides important information on the patient’s overall condition. Measurement of blood pressure is taken for both systolic and diastolic pressures. A normal blood pressure for an adult is 120/80 with the top number representing systolic pressure and the bottom number diastolic pressures. Blood pressure for a patient can be obtained by using a manual sphygmomanometer which includes a cuff and a pump or there are a variety of electronic devices that now help to measure blood pressure.

Breathing – Finally, checking the lungs for breathing, clarity of airways and rate of respiration helps determine lung health. Using a stethoscope, a CNA training graduate will ask the patient to breathe deeply and slowly while listening for signs of rasp, blockage, whistling, labored breathing or congestion.

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