I remember my first time inserting a catheter…

Blend Images | JGI
Blend Images | JGI

There are few things more terrifying than that moment when you graduate from a mannequin with perfectly engineered anatomy to a real, living (and sometimes kicking) human being. Especially when it comes to getting up close and personal to your patient with a catheter…for the very first time.

Needless to say, the success rate isn’t exactly optimal among first-timers, and if you’re one of the unlucky ones, things can really get weird. Fascinated by your responses to one nurse’s description of her first fumble on our Funny Nurses Facebook page, we thought we’d gather a few of our favorites into a single, cringe-worthy post.

Prepare to relive your own “first time”:

1. “My first time inserting a catheter in a male patient, I noticed a lot of movement under the sheet. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was getting it erect for me! I was a student at the time and I was thinking, ‘Did they forget to tell me that in lab?'” —Jessica B.

2. “My first time, the patient was so nervous and had already had two other students attempt it. I asked her what I could do to help her relax, she asked me to sing ‘The Sheldon Song’ from The Big Bang Theory. And I did…ya do what ya gotta do.” —Jen I. 

3. “My first IDC was a 90+ yo lady who proclaimed loudly, ‘It’s a deep dark tunnel down there!'” —Kathryn J.

4. “I remember trying to help a new nurse with a male patient. She couldn’t get it in. He had a large…prostate…lol. I kept trying to explain how to point and stretch. I finally gave up and said, ‘Choke the chicken!’ She got it!” —Marsha Y.

5. “I’m convinced every woman has a decoy meatus.” —Kara M.

6. “Had a horrid instructor for my first cath who said she was only giving me one try, which of course I botched. She huffily took a new catheter, said, ‘This is how you do it’ and failed, too! LOL. Couldn’t laugh, then a bit afterwards, my patient said, ‘Well, we showed her, dearie’ and I thought I’d die. Karma.” —Maria D.

7. “I had a pt with two penises! I was brand-new out of school and asked the charge nurse, ‘Which one do I try?’ She said, ‘Do both until you get a urine return!’ Talk about a shocker!” —Susan N.

8. “There are times that I utilize the ‘Jedi Method.’ When you have looked and poked so many times, stop looking. Stand up, take a deep breath and just make the movements without looking. Nine times out of 10, this works for me. Is it the most sterile? Of course not, but seriously—what Foley insertion is ever truly sterile?” —Mark O.

9. “My first was a very large male patient in the ED with severe CHF exacerbation. Well, everything was large except his penis. I literally could not find it. It was so small it was almost even with his skin. Before that day I never knew it was possible for one to be that small. That situation broke me in quickly!” —Heather R.

10. “Still looking for the ‘wink.'” —Rose B.

Have a story? Don’t be shy—share away in the comments section below!


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3 Responses to I remember my first time inserting a catheter…

  1. AuntJoey

    I had knee surgery and had a student nurse that had never inserted a cath. He found out that I’m a nurse and he was scared to death. I talked him thru my catheter insertion. At the end, I gave him a few pointers. His instructor laughed thru the whole thing. As they walked out, the poor student took several deep breaths.

  2. RN@Westbury

    Lol, I call myself the Queen of Foleys, I always offer to help or teach new nurses my method. Normally I can insert a Foley in a woman without looking, I just use my left hand middle finger to block the cervix, then usually the foley slides right into the urethra meatus which is usually right above or anterior to my finger. I am right handed so I stand on the patient’s right side. Recently however, I had an adult female patient who had some congenital anomalies… I just couldn’t find the meatus and the poor woman was uncomfortable. Finally, I tried something new out of desperation. I got a new Foley catheter. asked her to turn on her left side, raised her right leg up and forward (bending it at her knee for comfort) a little, there it was, her meatus! She was relieved and so was I. Last month, I had to use this same method for a very obese woman, it worked perfectly!

  3. Lizrocks

    I’ve gone in from the back a couple times. One was a contractured woman in a fetal position. It was easy from the back. The other was a confused uncooperative woman. It’s a useful trick. My first ever was a 19 year old femur fx. May have been my first day of clinicals. Nurse tells me he speaks English. I tell him what I’m going to do, he says that’s fine. I also asked if it was ok for my classmates to watch. He said yes. So there’s 6 girls plus the instructor there, and as I’m prepping the tray, he turns to the other girl and asks in Spanish, “She’s gonna stick that garden hose WHERE?” Didn’t speak a lick of English, just pretended to! Poor guy was biting the blanket. I do remember being surprised at how slippery things got!