When practicing techniques such as placing IV catheters and intubating patients, we learned on practice models. My “leg” to practice placing catheters was a wooden dowel with a piece of thick tubing stapled to it. We practiced intubating patients with a model of a dog’s head and on cadavers. While we can’t always — and shouldn’t — do our practice on live patients, I’ve learned that these models don’t completely prepare us for the real deal.
For my first time in real life trying to place an IV catheter, it did not go even remotely as well as placing a catheter on the fake leg. First off, the patient is attached to the leg, so the leg does not stay still like the practice model does. When I hit blood, I at least remembered to start feeding the catheter; however, fake dog legs don’t have valves, and I wasn’t prepared for that. I pulled the catheter out and got a new one to try again in a higher location on the leg. This time my placement was not successful, and knowing that the leg was going to blow up with a hematoma, I quit while I was behind and let someone else do it. I’m not going to keep poking a live animal for the sake of learning and only create more issues.
Moral of the story is, you can never be 100% prepared for what will happen in the real world. Practice makes perfect, but especially making sure to get real world practice is essential. Next time I try to place a catheter, I’m hoping for more success. I hear it’s a bit of an art to master. Although I was definitely disappointed that I couldn’t place my first one, now I have one failed attempt to learn from for future experiences.