Afraid of Blood and Needles? | Harris Casel Institute Melbourne FL
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Afraid of Blood and Needles?

fear of blood and needlesFind out 8 tips for getting over that queasy feeling

Have you ever wondered how doctors and nurses can deal with all the trauma they see? Do you feel like fainting at the sight of a drop of blood? If so, you are not alone. At the Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, Florida, we prepare students for careers in healthcare and allied health. And while many students have strong stomachs, other don’t feel so good the first time they have to practice a needle stick.

Believe it or not, many successful nurses and doctors began their training with a fear of blood and needles. Through frequent exposure and practice, they were able to get over these fears. Do you think it’s possible you could conquer your fears? To this end, we have compiled some advice gathered from online forums where experienced nurses discuss their strategies.

1. Practice on the models as much as you can
Most training schools for medical assistants, nurses, and other healthcare professionals will have models or dummies where you can practice your procedures. This is a great way to practice, for example, a needle stick—without actually drawing any blood. If the instructor says to practice it 10 times, ask if you can practice it 20 times. The more you practice the procedure, it will start to become like autopilot. Then when it’s time to practice the skill on a person, you will be less nervous.

2. Focus on the steps of the skill, not the blood
Every nursing and allied health skill has certain procedures that need to be followed. For instance, in drawing blood, you prep the equipment, apply the tourniquet, sterilize the area, insert the needle, establish blood flow, release the tourniquet, remove the vials, remove the needle, bandage the patient, and so on. If you focus your mind on completing these steps—and don’t let your mind think about the blood—you may be able to avoid your fear.

3. Narrow your focus
When drawing blood or administering an injection, it can help if you don’t think about the person’s arm actually being a part of their body. Instead, just focus on the small area of skin where the needle needs to be inserted. If you focus your attention on that one spot, you can steer your thoughts away from what makes you queasy.

4. Get advice from other healthcare practitioners
Oftentimes when you are serving a patient, there will be a nurse or other healthcare worker who has already worked with that patient. Ask them for advice on how they are handling the patient’s needs, whether it be changing a wound dressing, caring for a catheter, or finding the best spot for drawing blood. Learning from another person can make you more confident in the procedure and less anxious.

5. Desensitization techniques
Many times you can desensitize yourself to bothersome thoughts and feelings by slowly exposing yourself to them. Over time, with more exposure, the feelings won’t bother you as much. For healthcare professionals, this could be by watching surgery videos or other medical procedures on YouTube or medical education websites. Seeing the things that “gross you out” over and over again on a video can help make you feel less bothered as time goes on.

6. Watch experienced practitioners
If you are the queasy type, try to create extra opportunities for yourself to see experienced practitioners at work. See if you can attend extra lab classes or shadow someone during an externship. These real-life observations can help expose you to more situations, desensitize you to the parts that bother you, and at the same time, give you better clinical skills.

7. Self-care
Healthcare jobs require you to be on your feet and on the move most of the day. To feel your best, be sure to get plenty of sleep, replenish your fluids with plenty of water, eat a healthy balanced diet, and avoid too much caffeine. Taking care of yourself can make you feel stronger when it’s time to face situations that are causing you anxiety or feelings of lightheadedness.

8. Keep blood and oxygen in your head if you feel faint
If the above methods fail and you still feel that you are going to faint, by all means take care of yourself. Some people find that squeezing their quads and abs can help force blood to the head and avoid fainting. Others need to sit down with their heads between their legs or go out for some fresh air.

The field of healthcare is a noble profession, but it may not be for everyone. If you are finding that you are not able to overcome your feelings of queasiness or fainting, there may be other positions that are office-based that could be a better match for you. But if you are able to desensitize yourself and get over these feelings, you will be so proud of yourself! Good luck!



The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, FL, offers career training programs for people interested in becoming home health aides, medical billing and coding specialists, nursing assistants, practical nurses, and more. Find out more today.