Hello! I'm just looking for some advice/tips. I'm a new grad who recently got a job on an observation unit. I'm having a huge struggle with EKGs, even throughout nursing school and still now. One of the older nurses when I was giving report "ripped me a new one" because I wasn't able to correctly identify a rhythm and basically made me feel really awful about it. I feel like I should really know this stuff but I just can't wrap my head around it and I just feel stupid for not understanding.
First of all, the older nurses shouldn’t be ripping you a new one. So, on their behalf, I’m sorry you experienced that. What they should have done was offer to help teach you. </soapbox>
OK, cardiac rhythms aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people just get them and others take a little more time to pick up on them. I loved cardiac rhythms and was fortunate to be able to obtain my ACLS as part of a year-long residency program while in nursing school. I spent three days learning EKG rhythms. It was tedious, but well worth the investment. I’ll try to pass along some of that knowledge here.
The first thing you have to do is be very familiar with the elements of the normal EKG. If you know the baseline, you’ll be able to better recognized the arrhythmias. Learning heart rhythms takes time and practice. And rather than re-invent the wheel, I recommend a couple of YouTube videos, each about 10 minutes long, and a PowerPoint-style EKG course that is long, but breaks things down in very simple terms.
If you take the time to watch these videos and review the EKG refresher, I think you’ll be much better equipped to interpret rhythms going forward. It won’t happen overnight, but with regular practice, it’ll come.
Hang in there and good luck!