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Clinical Dos and Don’ts

*Original post released on 12/23/2020

Hey Study Nurse Fam!

This article is going to walk you through some of the more important Dos and Don’ts involved with clinical. As someone who has been in your shoes, going through nursing school and clinicals, I want to give you some tips of things to be sure to do and which things to avoid doing from a nurse’s perspective. This list will be broken down into two sections….starting off with the more negative aspects of things to avoid doing. We’ll end things on a positive note and discuss what you can do to stand out and set yourself apart from the rest of your cohort. Be sure to share any of the tips you think I’ve missed, or those that may help someone else, in the comments below!

Things to Avoid Doing at Clinical

  • DON’T have what I call “placement envy” or a bad attitude towards the assignment you’ve been given. There are learning experiences in EVERY situation. You hold yourself back from those opportunities when your emotions get in the way.
  • DON’T show up late. Think of every interaction on the unit as a mini job interview. When you show up late, people will notice, especially if it causes delays for the class or nurse.
  • DON’T do your paperwork or homework on clinical time (unless you’re required to do so). The benefits of truly getting involved in the clinical experiences you’re afforded will last much longer than the little bit of time you save from getting an assignment done.
  • DON’T take any papers home that contain patient information. I feel like this is pretty much a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many times this needs to be reiterated to students.
  • DON’T be cocky! No one likes someone who shows off, thinks they know everything, etc. Trust me you don’t. And it can be dangerous for a nurse to be overly confident in their abilities, because this creates an opportunity for subtle changes to be missed when the nurse is not careful. (This is a general statement, may not apply to you)
  • DON’T judge a specialty solely on one interaction with a nurse or unit. Give the experience time, and keep an open mind.
  • DON’T ask too many questions or ask questions at inappropriate times. For example, if the nurse or provider is performing a critical task, like titrating a medication or assisting with intubation, that’s probably not the best time to ask something unless it is extremely pertinent. Jot your questions down and save them, when unable to be asked, for a debrief of the day with your nurse.
  • DON’T post any specifics about your clinical experiences (good or bad) or info about the patient/facility on your social media. Better to be safe than sorry and avoid posting at all. Be careful about taking pictures in the facility and be aware of what’s in the background.
  • DON’T be unsafe with your health or with someone else’s health. Follow specified precautions, even when they seem silly. For example, wearing googles/face shield to empty the urine out of a foley bag. This has become so much more pertinent to health care professionals with the recent pandemic.
  • DON’T blindly follow orders. If you don’t understand or feel comfortable with an order, speak up and clarify. It is, again, better to be safe than sorry.
  • DON’T wait too long to intervene. TRUST YOUR GUT!!!

Things to Definitely DO at Clinical

  • DO come prepare, having researched your patient if possible. This means looking at their reason for admission, meds, labs, diagnostic studies, etc.
  • DO strive to understand the basics of your patient’s medications: why they’ve been prescribed, pertinent labs, and adverse effects.
  • DO offer to help anyone and everyone. There’s a learning experience underneath every interaction, trust me.
  • DO get involved and be eager to do so. Staff members on the unit WILL notice, and this will only make you look more favorable if you interview later on for an internship or job.
  • DO treat each rotation as if that specialty was your passion. You will learn more when you have a better attitude and leave yourself open to opportunities that may have otherwise been missed.
  • DO take advantage of any opportunity you get the chance to…even if its something you’re not skilled at. You will learn best through these interactions, and practice makes perfect!
  • DO keep a journal of your experiences, and if you’re interested in CRNA school keep a log of any shadowing opportunities that you participate in. It may come in handy later on!
  • DO interact with as many healthcare professionals and specialties as possible. Expand your experience by doing this, plus it will help you understand how the healthcare team works collaboratively together.
  • DO be a clean worker. Keep the patient’s room and your work area clean. Be sure to not leave a mess for the next nurse. They will notice this and associate you with those behaviors and work ethic.
  • DO be considerate of patient privacy, decency, emotions, and try your best to be empathetic towards clients.
  • DO participate in code experiences if you get the chance to do so! You will learn quite a bit from the emergent collaborative efforts involved with resuscitating a patient.

I sincerely hope you all liked this article and found some useful things to keep in mind when you head into your next clinical rotation this upcoming year. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel when it launches later this week, on Christmas Day. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us all this year!


Andra Alyse

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