Health assessment is by far one of the best courses in nursing school. There are few or no exams in this class—rather, it is hands on, and at the end of the course, you are able to complete a full head-to-toe assessment on a patient for your final grade. This class goes right along with the anatomy and physiology course, but in a way that is a little less textbook-based and more hands on. This course will teach you how to perform a detailed assessment on each part of the adult body.

You will be able to identify any abnormalities, how to document your assessment, and understand how a full-body assessment is performed. The exams or tests in this course are a little different. Each week you will learn an assessment on one or more parts of the body. At the end of each week, you will have to perform your assessment for a test grade. At the end of the course, the final exam is how well you perform physical assessment, including identifying any problems that could occur during the assessment.

Remember that each course is designed differently, and keep notes on what your professor highlights. The best part about this course is that you can practice on friends, family, and pretty much anyone who allows you to do so. If you are having difficulties during this course, practice your assessment techniques when you have time, and attend study sessions, if possible. You will use the information in this class throughout your nursing career. The most important part of our job is the assessment. It is important to assess, document, and notify the doctor of any changes that occur. For example, you may notice swelling in a patient’s bilateral extremity. This information is based on your physical assessment of the patient.

Nurses are usually the first to recognize changes in a patient’s condition, and a detailed exam is very important during the shift. At the beginning of each assessment, it is important to explain to the patient what you are doing and provide privacy while performing the assessment. If a patient is admitted with a respiratory complication or abdominal pain, you need to focus more closely on those areas during your assessment.

This whole section is going to be highlighted. Each section of this course is tested information. A complete physical assessment will be your final exam. Good luck and enjoy. Take out those stethoscopes and flashlights; it’s time to assess.

Health Assessment

Health Assessment: SKIN, HAIR, AND NAILS

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

The skin is the largest organ in the body and acts as a barrier against many pathogens. Think of the skin as a protective shield. The structure of the skin is divided into three layers: (a) epidermis, (b) dermis, and (c) subcutaneous layer. Details of the layers of the skin will not be tested or focused on. If you refer back to your anatomy and physiology textbook, you can get a better understanding of each layer and the role they play in the body. Let’s continue with the assessment of the skin.

Skin Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

First, start the assessment by providing privacy for the patient—shut doors or close curtains to provide privacy. Explain that you will be performing a physical assessment on the whole body. Use standard precautions when assessing any patient. Ask the patient to lie down on the bed, and begin assessing the skin on each section of the body. Assess the skin by looking at the color, texture, temperature, and any abnormalities. Skin turgor—that is, elasticity of the skin—is assessed. If, upon being gently pinched, the skin (usually on the hand) does not retract to its normal state or takes slightly longer, this can be a sign of dehydration. Skin that is assessed with no abnormalities is documented as dry and intact, meaning it is normal. Obtain a little history from the patient about their skin before your assessment. The common skin abnormalities are listed below; refer to your textbook for pictures to gain a better understanding.

Ecchymosis: This is bruising of the skin. It appears black and blue and is typically seen on the upper extremities. It is commonly seen in elderly patients as well as in patients who have fragile skin.

  • Jaundice: This is a yellow-tinged color of the skin that is caused by liver failure or liver disease.
  • Erythema: This is redness to an affected area caused by cellulitis (common skin infection), skin infection, rash, or irritation of the skin. The area of redness can be large or small.
  • Pruritus: This is a rash that is itchy and typically patchy; it is caused by an allergic reaction.
  • Cyanosis: This is a blue-tinged color that is typically seen at the tips of fingers or toes; it is caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow.
  • Skin tears: An opening of the top layer of the skin causing a break in the skin. Usually seen in patients with fragile skin or in patients who are on the medication prednisone, which causes paper-thin skin.
  • Ulcers/wounds: Opening of the skin that is identified by stages. Refer to Chapter 1 or 3 for more details. These wounds are commonly found in the elderly population or immobile patients.
  • Abrasion/laceration: An abrasion is superficial damage to the skin, such as a scrape.
  • Skin lesions: There are many forms of lesions that can appear on the skin:
  • A macule is a flat lesion that is less than 1 cm
  • A papule is a raised firm lesion less than 1 cm
  • A plaque is an elevated lesion that is greater than 1 cm
  • A nodule is a firm lesion greater than 1 cm
  • A vesicle is an elevated capsule that contains straw-colored fluid and is greater than 1 cm.
  • A bulla is a fluid-filled lesion that measures less than 1 cm and resembles a blister.

When documenting skin findings, it is important to describe where any abnormality was found, the size, color, odor, and if there is any drainage. Take pictures of all wounds and record exact measurements. Normal skin findings are documented as dry and intact. An example of an abnormal finding is left upper arm ecchymosis, a skin lesion on right arm, or a dime-size erythema on calf. Report all findings to your instructor.

Hair Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Begin with assessing the scalp—inspect the scalp by running your fingers through it and palpating for any changes. The hair should be full and clean. Common hair disorders are alopecia, which is hair loss (other than normal, age-appropriate hair loss) and can be caused by chemotherapy; or dry coarse hair, which can signify a thyroid problem. Assess the scalp for any cuts or abrasions. Document the findings.

Nail Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Nails are usually a great indicator of respiratory or circulatory problems. A lack of blood flow or venous insufficiency can be determined by nail color. Assess the patient’s nail color. Remove any nail polish. Nails should be clean and normal in color, and capillary refill should be less than 3 seconds. The capillary refill test is a quick way to see if there is proper blood flow to the fingers. It is done by pressing down on the nail. When pressure is applied, the nails turns white, and the nail should return to pink in less than 3 seconds. If not, this could be a sign of dehydration or a vascular problem.

Nail abnormalities include:

  • Clubbing: Ridges in the nails can signify a decrease in oxygen.
  • Cyanosis: A blue tinge to the nails can also mean there is a decrease in oxygen and blood flow to the nail bed.
  • Spooning: A curve in the nail can be a sign of a lack of nutrients or iron.
  • White bands: White bands that are seen on the nails can be caused by cirrhosis of the liver or liver disorders.

Document all your findings!

Health Assessment: HEAD, EARS, AND NOSE

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Start the assessment by palpating the facial bones and skull for any abnormalities, lesions, or pain. If possible, have the patient sit on the edge of the bed to assess the back of the head as well. Stand in front of the patient and assess for symmetry of the nose, eyes, ears, and mouth. A deviation or drooping can be a sign of a stroke or other neurological disorder. Obtain a history from the patient before documenting any abnormalities. A facial droop may be a result of a past stroke. Cranial nerves will come into play during this section and many more. (Pay attention: I have highlighted them in the chapter for you.)

 

Eye Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

First, obtain a history from the patient of any eye disorders. Ask the patient if he or she wears glasses or contact lenses or has any history of blindness. Assess the eye for visual acuity, symmetry, lids, lashes, sclera, cornea, and pupil response, and palpate around the eye for any pain. Assess the eye for redness and drainage. The eye has many different assessment points that we will discuss.

  • Visual acuity (cranial nerve II) determines how well the patient is able to see. This is measured using the Snellen chart and by asking the patient to cover one eye while reading the chart from a distance. Normal vision is 20/20. Patients may already wear glasses and be aware that they have difficulty seeing.
  • Assess the sclera, the white part of the eye. The iris is the colored portion of the eye. Jaundice is seen in the sclera and is a common finding in patients with liver disorders.
  • Assess the palpebral fissure, which is the eyelid. Abnormality such as ptosis (droopy eye) may be seen. Exophthalmos is bulging of the eyes, seen in patients who suffer from Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder.
  • Inspect the conjunctiva by pulling the upper and lower lids, looking for complications such as conjunctivitis or hemorrhage.
  • Assess the pupil size, shape, and equality (cranial nerve III). The
    size of the pupil can vary between 2 and 4 mm.
  • Assess for extraocular movements (cranial nerves III, IV, and VI) by creating a letter “H” with the penlight, and having the patient follow the shape to show the pupils’ ability to follow the configuration. A lack of coordination to follow the “H” can indicate disorders such as nystagmus and strabismus (lazy eye).

Assessment of the Pupils

  • Direct assessment: Instruct the patient to look straight ahead, and shine a light directly into each pupil starting from the temporal side (from the forehead down to the pupil). In response to the light, the pupils should constrict quickly, meaning go from large to small; this is the pupil’s reaction to adjusting to the light. A fixed or dilated pupil means the pupils remain the same size and do not constrict in response to the light. The term for this is pinpoint. This can signify neurological damage, head injury, intoxication, or a reaction to medications.
  • Consensual assessment: Instruct the patient to look straight ahead. Shine a light starting from the temporal side, and assess for constriction of the opposite eye. When one pupil is stimulated by light, the opposite pupil also constricts.
  • Near reaction assessment: Instruct the patient to look straight ahead. Shine a light into each eye, and look for dilation and constriction of both pupils.

Document your findings and report any abnormalities during your assessment.

Ear Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a history of any ear disorders or problems from the patient. Ask the patient whether he or she is hard of hearing. Assess hearing, external ear, and internal ear, and palpate the outer ear for any abnormalities.

  • Inspect the ear by gently pulling the pinna back and up. The pinna is the top of the ear where it begins to curve; refer to your textbook for a visual.
  • Use an otoscope to assess inside the ear, looking for any abnormalities such as swelling or drainage. Identify the tympanic membrane (a pearly gray structure in the ear). Inspect the external ear for any lesions or tenderness.
  • Conduct the hearing test known as the whisper test (cranial nerve VIII). Instruct the patient to cover one ear while you stand about 1 to 2 feet away. Whisper two words or numbers in the uncovered ear while asking the patient to repeat the word or number back. Conduct the test on both sides.
  • Document any findings and report any abnormalities.

Nose Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a history of any nasal disorders or problems.

  • Inspect the interior and exterior of the nose. The nose should appear symmetrical, patent, and nondeviated.
  • Palpate the sinuses by gently pressing on the frontal and maxillary sinuses, assessing for any tenderness or pain. Patients with sinus infection often feel tenderness and pressure.
  • Assess for any bleeding or injury to the nose. Document the findings.

Health Assessment: MOUTH AND LIPS

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a history of any mouth or lip disorders. Inspect the lips, making sure there are no abnormalities. The lips should appear moist with no lesions or cracks.

  • Inspect the teeth and gums. The gums should appear moist and pink in color. They should have no lesions. The teeth should be intact with no cracks; assess for toothaches.
  • Dry mucous membranes, cracked lips, and dry mouth can be signs of dehydration.
  • Assess the uvula (the soft tissue that hangs at the back of the throat). Make sure the uvula is midline and rises when swallowing.
  • Have the patient smile, making sure there is no deviation; a droop can signify a stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA).
  • Document the findings.

Health Assessment: NECK AND NODES ASSESSMENT

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

First obtain a history of any neck abnormalities.

  • Assess the neck, and palpate for any lesions and enlarged nodes. The trachea should appear midline.
  • Assess the carotid arteries one at a time. Never assess both carotids together as it can cause severe dizziness.
  • Palpate the thyroid gland. Enlarged thyroids may be signs of hyperthyroidism, goiter, or other abnormalities. Enlarged nodes need to be assessed and reported to the physician.
  • Document the findings.

Health Assessment: NEUROLOGICAL SYSTEM AND CRANIAL NERVES

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a history (pretty repetitive, I know). The neurological system is very complex and coordinates many functions in the body. This section will cover the five main tests used to perform an accurate neurological exam: (a) level of consciousness (LOC), (b) cranial nerves, (c) motor function, (d) sensory function, and (e) deep tendon reflexes.

Level of Consciousness

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Assess the patient’s mental status. Ask the patient to identify self, place, and time. If there is no alteration in mental status, document the findings as “patient is alert and oriented times 3.” If the patient is slightly confused and cannot state the time or place, document the findings as “patient is alert and oriented times 2 or 1,” meaning they are slightly confused. Older patients with dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s) often show declines in mental status and the ability to answer questions appropriately. Assess for any new changes in mental status, slurred speech (sign of stroke), and, in older patients, urinary tract infections (UTI), which can alter a patient’s mental status. It is always important to obtain labs and urine cultures.

Cranial Nerves

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

So sorry to break it to you, but you will be tested on the 12 cranial nerves! Cranial nerves originate from the brain and perform different functions in the body. The cranial nerves are:

  • Cranial nerve I: The olfactory nerve functions in the sense of smell.
  • Cranial nerve II: The optic nerve functions in the ability to see. Visual acuity and visual fields are assessed.
  • Cranial nerve III: The oculomotor nerve functions in pupil response and lid movement. Assess by the response of the eyes to light.
  • Cranial nerve IV: The trochlear nerve functions in eye movement. It is assessed by testing extraocular movements using the cardinal fields of gaze.
  • Cranial nerve V: The trigeminal sensory nerve is the largest cranial nerve and plays a role in the sensory function of the nose, eyes, tongue, and teeth. This is assessed by applying a light touch to the cheek, forehead, and jaw. Typically, the end of a cotton swab is used on the three dermatomes, while asking the patient if he or she is able to feel the sensation. The patient should also be asked to clench the jaw, to assess for muscle strength.
  • Cranial nerve VI: The abducens nerve performs the function of the lateral eye movement. It is assessed by using the cardinal field of gaze.
  • Cranial nerve VII: The facial motor nerve functions in the ability to perform facial expressions. It is assessed by having the patient smile, clench teeth, and wrinkle the forehead.
  • Cranial nerve VIII: The acoustic nerve functions in the ability to hear. Assess the patient’s ability to hear by using the whisper test. This can determine whether the patient is hard of hearing.
  • Cranial nerve IX/X: The glossopharyngeal/vagus nerve controls the tongue and palate. Assess the patient’s ability to swallow produce the gag reflex.
  • Cranial nerve XI: The spinal accessory nerve governs head control. Assess by having the patient turn his or her head and pressing against the shoulders, assessing for resistance and strength.
  • Cranial nerve X: The hypoglossal nerve controls the tongue function. Assess by having the patient stick his or her tongue out and making sure the tongue is midline.

Document any findings.

Motor Function

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Motor function is the ability to evaluate the strength of muscles in the upper and lower extremities. To examine the upper extremities, ask the patient to press against your arms while assessing the strength of each arm. Strength should be equal in both arms. To assess the lower extremities, ask the patient to press his or her legs against your hands, assessing for strength and resistance. Strength should be equal in both legs. To assess whether the patient has a steady or unsteady gait, ask the patient to walk in a straight line. While the patient is walking, assess for weakness or the inability to ambulate. Document any findings.

Sensory Function

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Sensory function is the body’s response to light touch, vibration, and pain sensations. Light touch is assessed by using a cotton ball to touch the major dermatomes while looking at the response to the sensation. Vibration is assessed by using a tuning fork to apply sensation, and asking the patient if he or she can feel the vibration. To elicit the sensations of pain, gently use a paper clip or the end of a tongue blade.

Document the findings.

Deep Tendon Reflexes

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Deep tendon reflexes are the response of reflexes in the triceps, biceps, brachioradialis, patellar, and Achilles tendon. This response is assessed by gently tapping on the reflex to stimulate a response. The response of reflexes is graded as follows: 4+ indicates a brisk and hyperactive response, 2+ is a normal response, and 0 means no response. Document the findings.

Health Assessment: THORAX AND LUNGS

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

The thorax and lungs are a little difficult to describe in writing; they are best visualized, but I will try my best. First obtain a health history of any respiratory disorders the patient may have. Pay close attention to the instructor’s assessment of the thorax and lungs. Assess the lungs and thorax, noting any abnormalities.

  • Begin the assessment by positioning the patient upright or asking the patient to sit up. Before auscultating lung sounds, turn off the television and shut the room door. The fewer distractions, the better. Time to get those stethoscopes! I will describe the lung assessment in four steps for easy learning.
  • The first step is to assess the lungs, looking for symmetry, use of accessory muscles (apparent when the patient is experiencing distress), and diameter of the lungs. Assess to make sure the patient is not having difficulty breathing or in distress. Common conditions that can alter the lungs’ diameter are kyphosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema, to name just a few.
  • Second, palpate the chest wall by placing your hands on the posterior chest, and assess vibrations, which should be equal throughout.
  • Third, percuss the chest wall by gently tapping on the chest. Normal sounds are loud and hollow. If there is air or fluid in the lungs, it will sound dull and filled. Dull percussions can mean there is a pleural effusion or fluid overload in the lungs.
  • The fourth step is the auscultation of the lung sounds. Get those stethoscopes out! Always auscultate lung sounds on the patient’s bare skin—never auscultate over clothing. When listening to breath sounds, you are to listen to the lower lungs and upper lungs on each side, that is, the right and left, equaling four sections on the lung field. Place the stethoscopes on the chest, making sure the room is quiet, and listen carefully. Have the patient take a deep breath for each region. You should hear air moving through the lung clearly; this is normal. Abnormal breath sounds are crackles, ronchi, wheezing, rales, diminished, or rubbing. These breath sounds can mean numerous conditions. Ronchi or coarse breath sounds can be due to pneumonia or upper respiratory infection. Crackles can signify fluid in the lungs. Wheezing can signify asthma. Report any of these findings to your instructor. Document your findings.

Health Assessment: HEART AND PERIPHERAL VASCULAR ASSESSMENT

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Cardiac Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a history from the patient, asking the patient if he or she has had any cardiovascular disorders, arrhythmias, or other problems. The heart assessment goes right along with listening to the lungs. While listening to the lungs, you need to listen to the heart at the same time. There are four areas where heartbeats can be heard:

  • Aortic area: Right second intercostal at the sternal border.
  • Pulmonic area: Left second intercostal; this is where S1 and S2 are strongly heard.
  • Tricuspid area: Left third to fourth intercostal.
  • Mitral area: Left fifth intercostal space at the midclavicular line.

When listening to these regions, the heart sounds should be strong and 60 to 100 bpm. Abnormal lung sounds are murmurs or arrhythmias, which may be new or chronic for the patient. The most commonly heard arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular heartbeat.

The Peripheral Vascular Assessment

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

The peripheral vascular system consists of all arteries and veins in the body that circulate blood, specifically, in the upper and lower extremities. I will describe to you the various pulses to assess, but a visual picture will be needed for a better understanding. The pulses are brachial, radial, femoral, popliteal, posterior tibial, and dorsalis pedis. There are many conditions where pulses are either hard to palpate or weak, such as vascular disease or edema. A Doppler stethoscope is then used to feel and hear the pulse. The most common pulse assessed in adults and infants is the brachial.

Document your findings!

[sociallocker]

Health Assessment: MUSCULOSKELETAL ASSESSMENT

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a health history from the patient, assessing for any musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. The musculoskeletal assessment is a head-to-toe assessment; it is helpful to perform the assessment in this order so you will not forget anything when tested. So, let’s start with the head.

  • Inspect the head for symmetry, deformities, bruising, or swelling. Palpate the head, assessing for warmth, tenderness, or pain. Ask the patient to move the head while assessing the neck for any abnormalities.
  • Assess the temporomandibular joint (at the jaw). Inspect this joint by first locating the mandible and temporal bone. Inspect for symmetry. Palpate the joint while the patient moves and relaxes the jaw. Ask the patient to move his or her jaw from side to side, assessing for any deviations or pain in the jaw. A common disorder is lockjaw.
  • Next assess the cervical spine and anterior neck. With the patient standing, ask him or her to tilt the head forward and backward. Assess the neck for symmetry, pain, muscle spasms, or tenderness. Then have the patient bend down and touch the knees, while you assess the curvature of the spine.
  • Have the patient sit upright or at the edge of the bed. Assess the shoulders for symmetry and alignment. Run your hands along the shoulders, assessing for pain or discomfort. Next, assess range of motion (ROM) of the shoulders by having the patient stand up straight while asking him or her to flex, extend, abduct, and adduct the arms. Assess for any abnormalities.
  • After inspecting the shoulders, move down to the elbows and wrist. Know the major bones in the arm such as the humerus and ulna. Inspect the elbow for swelling, pain, bruising, and any deformities. Similar to the shoulder, perform ROM of the arm, and assess for pain or limitations.
  • The hand anatomy consists of several small bones, including those of the wrist and fingers. Assess the hand, and palpate each finger, assessing for any pain, swelling, or tenderness. A common complication such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause deformity and severe swelling in the hands and fingers.
  • For the hip assessment, the patient will need to lie down. Perform ROM by having the patient move slightly from side to side, assessing for any pain, tenderness, and symmetry.
  • The knee exam is pretty simple. Inspect the knee for any swelling, bruising, tenderness, or deformities. Evaluate ROM by extending the knee and then flexing to a 90° angle. Assess for any complications.
  • Don’t forget the ankles! They are the most overlooked during the assessment. Inspect the ankle for any deformities, swelling, or tenderness. Ask the patient to perform plantar flexion, dorsiflexion, inversion, and eversion of the ankle and foot, assessing for any abnormalities.
  • Last but not least, assess the feet. Palpate the toes, assessing for any swelling, pain, or tenderness. Also note whether there are any calluses or bunions. If the patient is a diabetic, inspect the foot, carefully assessing for any cuts or ulcers. Diabetic patients often suffer from neuropathy of the feet (numbness), and are unable to feel if there is a cut or ulcer on the foot.
  • Make sure to document and tell your instructor of any findings!

Health Assessment: BREAST ASSESSMENT

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Obtain a health history, paying attention to any surgeries such as breast implantation or mastectomy from breast cancer. Provide privacy for the patient while performing the assessment.

  • First, assess the breast for symmetry. Assess the nipples for any discharge or fissures.
  • Next, have the patient raise his or her arms; assess for symmetry, pain, or swelling.
  • Palpate the breast, paying close attention to palpate for any lesions or lumps. Have the patient lie down and place his or her hands behind the head. Starting at the areola, gently compress the breast in a circle until your reach the armpit, assessing for any lumps or lesions. Next, assess the nipples for any discharge or pain.
  • Breast exams are performed on both men and women. Men can also have masses and tenderness of the breast as well.

Health Assessment: ABDOMINAL ASSESSMENT

Focus Topic: Health Assessment

Congratulations! You have made it to the last section of the health assessment.

Obtain a history from the patient. Ask the patient if he or she is having regular bowel movements, urinating frequently, and assess for pain in the abdomen. The abdomen is assessed in four quadrants:

  • Right upper quadrant consists of the liver, gallbladder, and right kidney.
  • Right lower quadrant consists of the colon, cecum, appendix, right ureter, and right spermatic cord.
  • Left upper quadrant consists of the spleen, pancreas , and left kidney.
  • Left lower quadrant consists of the sigmoid colon.

It is important to become familiar with the four quadrants so you know which structures you are assessing and palpating. Now, on to the assessment.

  • First, inspect the outer abdomen and assess for distension. Distension of the abdomen can signify constipation, bowel obstruction, ileus, or pancreatitis. Auscultate each quadrant of the abdomen listening for bowel sounds, which sound like gurgling. Bowel sounds can be hyperactive, hypoactive, or normal. It is important that you hear bowel sounds in each quadrant. Bowel sounds signify that the stomach is digesting and motility is intact.
  • After auscultation, percuss the abdomen. Place your hand palm down over the quadrants, and lightly tap your finger against your hand to make a tapping sound. Percuss each quadrant, listening for tympany, which is normal. Dullness is abnormal, and can signify a mass.
  • The last step is palpation of the abdomen. Lightly press against each quadrant, assessing for pain or tenderness. Your instructor will also show you how to palpate and assess the liver. Document any findings.

We have completed the health assessment section. Congratulations! I know this chapter has tons of information, but it will all come together and make more sense as you perform the assessment either on your classmates or on patients during clinical. With practice, you will be able to identify abnormalities and perform a whole body assessment in a matter of minutes. I promise it will get easier.

As you have noticed, I did not highlight much content in this chapter because you are to become familiar with each section in order to perform a detailed assessment. The course is designed to go through one or more sections a week. The final exam is to perform a complete assessment for your instructor. A helpful tip is to start with the head and finish with the feet. Make notecards, and draw out the outline of the body and write down each assessment.

I was a nervous wreck during my assessments. I was always missing or skipping a part of the assessment. But the professors will prompt you at times to go over the missed section. So try to relax and stay calm—the more nervous you are, the easier it is to forget. Practice is key; spend some extra time in the lab going over the assessment with a friend. This was my favorite course in nursing school, and it is one of the most important. A nurse’s main role is to assess and continue to look for any abnormalities that the patient may be experiencing and report any changes to the doctor. You will do great!

[/sociallocker]

FURTHER READING/STUDY:

Resouces: