Clinical rotations in nursing school are one of the most exciting but nerve-wracking experiences for a nursing student. During clinicals, the student FINALLY gets to see a “real” nurse in action and participate in patient care rather than read about how to do it in a nursing textbook.
Nursing clinicals are a critical time for nursing students to learn how to connect the material they’ve learned in lecture class to the real world of nursing. In addition, it preps them for when they will be working on their own as a nurse. So, it is very crucial the student knows how to get the most out of clinicals.
In this article, I want to give you four tips on how to actively participate in nursing school clinicals as a student.
Video on How to Actively Participate in Clinicals
Being an Active Participant in Clinicals
Prior to going to clinicals, research (in-depth) the disease processes you will be seeing during the clinical day. For example, if you are going to be working on a unit that provides care to congestive heart failure patients do the following:
- Research the disease process in your pathophysiology book (what causes it, what areas of the body are affected, signs and symptoms)
- Research the typical nursing interventions for CHF
- Research the typical medications used to treat CHF (the medication’s side effects, how they work on the body, patient education etc.)
Learn your preceptor’s teaching style!
Not all preceptors are alike! Some like students to set back and observe for a couple of days until they’ve learned the student’s abilities, and then allow them to jump in and help. While others expect students to be proactive, ask questions, and jump in immediately to help. Best way to learn what your preceptor likes is to ask. This will allow you both to work cohesively together and prevent conflict.
Ask questions and voice your needs!
If you don’t ask, you will never know! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak-up if you don’t understand something. Also, voice your needs when you need help or would like to learn something. If you want to learn how to start IVs or insert nasogastric tubes be sure to let your preceptor and other nurses on the unit know. They will be more than happy to let you try.
Don’t sit around idle!
I know being a student is a little “awkward” and many times you may feel like you are in the way (rest assure you’re not). However, avoid sitting around checking your phone or the internet. This sends the wrong signals to your preceptor and other nurses around you. It signals you aren’t interested in what they do and that you are there to complete a requirement. If you find yourself being idle, ask a nursing assistant if they need help or another nurse if you can do something for them because there is ALWAYS something to do on the unit.
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