*Original post released 11/27/19
There’s nothing like the stress of anticipating and participating in your first nursing school clinical placement. You’re finally making the leap from simulation lab to real patients, and that is both exhilarating and terrifying. I want to hear that you’ve excelled in all you do, so here are some of my tips for handling your rotation through the clinical setting:
- Make sure you pack your clinical bag with everything you’re required to have THE NIGHT BEFORE (or the morning before if it’s a night shift). You’ll thank me later.
- Give yourself plenty of time to be there early. It makes a good impression, and I’ve always been told that “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” Your punctuality or lack thereof speaks volumes to your character.
- If you have pre-clinical paperwork to do, don’t just go through the motions to get it done as fast as possible. There’s a reason you’re doing this paperwork, and it’s to help make you a safer student nurse for your patient(s).
- Show initiative and seek out opportunities while at clinical…BUT make sure your patient is taken care of first and foremost.
- Always go with your patient to any studies, procedures, surgeries, etc. It’ll be a wonderful learning opportunity for you and it will help you understand other medical professions (which will enhance your communication skills!)
- If you make a mistake, own up to it ASAP. You’re still learning and it sucks to have made a mistake, but someone’s life is in your hands.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake or don’t know an answer to a question you are asked. The most mature thing you can do is to learn from the situation. And if you don’t know something, admit it and say that you’ll look it up and get back to them. Make sure to follow through with this though.
- Some patients may request that you (the student) do not “practice” on them. This is their right, do not take it offensively. They are likely fearful of what’s to come from being in the hospital. It is your place to respect their autonomy to request a different care giver. Assist with whatever they’ll allow you to and maybe they’ll become more comfortable with you and open up.
- Don’t ever lie about your experience. There is a time and place for making your patient feel at ease, but this does not need to include a fib. You can always defer to something like this: “I have done quite a few of these in school, however my preceptor will be with me the entire time and he/she is an excellent and experienced nurse.”